No matter what issue or incident you are dealing with in life, you will find that being as prepared as possible makes sense. This means that you should be looking to make the most of the expert advice and guidance that is available from professionals in their field. Even if the situation looks bleak, you can always make it better or minimise the negative outcomes when you work to make things better.
This will be something that criminal gang members will have been wishing they adhered to before being sent to jail. Of course, in an ideal world, they wouldn’t have committed the crimes in the first place, but after the crimes had been committed, you need to start working towards minimising your chances of being caught, or you need to start working on your defence.
An eight team gang based in Lincolnshire undertook activities that pressurised elderly victims into giving money away in to what was deemed to be a “trust fund”. It is easy to see why many people would have no sympathy for criminals who engaged in such behaviour, and there would be calls for a bigger punishment.
High Pressure Sales Pitches are all too common
People in the gang were salesman, but they posed as legal consultants, visiting elderly people in their homes. The main aim of their sales pitch was informing the elderly residents that they could protect their homes and any savings that they had from care home costs by setting up a trust document to place money into.
As you would expect, the team used high-pressure tactics and were more than happy to tell scare stories about the possible outcome of not protecting money in a proper manner. One of the tactics was to ask for a £2,000 upfront payment which was meant for an “estate preservation trust” or a “family prosperity trust”. In total, the gang operated for two years, and they raked in £250,000 in each of the two years that they were operating. An investigation into their activities was undertaken by the Trading Standards team at Nottinghamshire City Council and this investigation led to 8 people being successfully prosecuted. The gang had companies set up in the names of Protection Services, Inheritance & Probate Solutions and Goldstar Law Ltd. All three of the companies used a postal address in London but operated from rented units in Newark.
A Lot of effort was put in to creating this Company
Joseph Croft, Matthew Appleyard and Matthew’s father Alan Appleyard were in charge of running the business and they brought in Joy Bell to hold the position of “Head of Legal”. This meant that Bell posed as a legal professional and expert for the company but she held no legal qualifications of her own. All four of these gang members admitted Fraudulent Trading and Legal Services Act offences.
Adam Nichols, Adrian Large, Paul Fox and Paul Gorman were all positioned as “legal consultants” in the firm, and these four admitted carrying out offences under the Fraud Act.
Croft was sentenced to four and a half years in prison while both of the Applecrofts were sentenced to four years in prison. All three of these men have also been disqualified from being a director for ten years. This is something that could have an impact on their activity once they are freed from prison and they may find that obtaining director disqualification advice would have been of considerable benefit.
Bell was handed down a 9 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, while also being provided with a curfew order and 200 hours of unpaid community work. Forman and Fox received 4 month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months, as well as being ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and carry out 200 hours of unpaid community work.
The Chair of the Council Community Safety Committee, Glyn Gilfoyle, said; “People were duped into believing these trusts were guaranteed to work but, in fact, they were ineffective and worthless. Many of the complainants are elderly and were subjected to pressure-selling tactics.”
Given the nature of these crimes, and the deliberate targeting of the elderly, it is unlikely that many people, if any, will have any sympathy for the criminals or the sentences that they received. This is the sort of crime that is appals many people, and if anything, there is argument to be made for even stiffer sentences to be handed out to these criminals.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.