Mansfield conman scammed £50,000 from vulnerable people

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A MANSFIELD mobility aid salesman who conned £50,000 from vulnerable people is due to be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court tomorrow (4th January).

Darren Sharpe (42) who is currently on remand but previously lived in The Park, Mansfield, has pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business dating from January 2011 to April 2011 and fraudulent trading dating from April 2011 to January 2012.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards instigated the investigation into the case following dozens of complaints.

Sharpe has also pleaded guilty to nine fraud offences put to him by Derbyshire Police and five fraud offences put by South Yorkshire Police.

Sharpe worked under the company name of Ideal Mobility Solutions and it is alleged that he worked with another Nottinghamshire salesman who is due to be making a plea at the same hearing.

The company mainly mis-sold ordinary mattress covers that were claimed to have health benefits for ailments such as bad backs and stiff joints.

They were sold for up to £300 each when they were only worth around £30.

Mobility aids such as mobility scooters and stair lifts were also sold at an inflated price or were not delivered and unauthorised transactions from credit cards were taken as part of the scam.

The case involves 41 witness statements from victims, many of which are elderly or disabled and includes 10 victims from Nottinghamshire. The amount of money taken from the victims ranged from £200 to £5,000 and totalled £50,000.

The East Midlands Scambusters Team – a regional unit funded by the National Trading Standards Board which deals with large cases of fraud, high pressure selling and deceptive practices – worked alongside Nottinghamshire County Council along with Derbyshire Police and South Yorkshire Police.

Councillor Mick Murphy, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Safety Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, said, “Sharpe ruthlessly preyed on vulnerable people with his mobility aid scam with no concern about the impact of his crimes on his victims.

“He used high-pressured sales techniques to sell products at extortionate rates which were not the miracle items they were claimed to be or were never delivered.”

George Withnall (81) and his 78-year-old wife Patricia from Long Eaton purchased a bed from Sharpe in March 2011 at a cost of £1,545.

Their old bed was taken away and the new bed was not as ordered and was very uncomfortable. They complained but got neither a refund nor their old bed back.

George has arthritis and has two crushed vertebrae and his wife suffers from Parkinsons disease, thyroid and heart problems.

George said: “The salesman had the gift of the gab and was very forceful. He made out of the bed would help cure my back problems.

“The money we spent on the bed was a large part of our savings and as pensioners we could have done a lot with this money.

“It felt like the earth fell beneath us when we realised we were not going to be getting our money back.

“We’ve learnt a hard lesson with this experience and we would never be taken in by a cold caller again.”

The NTSB brings together trading standards experts from services across England and Wales to prioritise, fund and coordinate national and regional enforcement cases. It is responsible for gathering intelligence from around the country to combat rogue traders and tackle priorities such as internet scams, illegal money lending and other issues that go beyond local authority boundaries.