Mansfield salesman jailed for conning vulnerable customers

Darren Sharpe
Darren Sharpe

TWO mobility aid salesmen - including one from Mansfield - who conned £50,000 from vulnerable people have been jailed for a total of six-and-a-half years.

Darren Sharpe (44), of The Park, Mansfield, admitted participating in a fraudulent business dating from January 2011 to April 2011 and fraudulent trading dating from April 2011 to January 2012.

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

Sharpe was jailed for five years at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday – although he had been on remand since July, which will be taken off his sentence.

Christopher Andrew Simpson, (47), of Loughborough Road, West Bridgford, pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business dating from January 2011 to April 2011 and fraudulent trading dating from April 2011 to June 2011.

Simpson was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

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

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.

Sharpe and Simpson worked under the company name of Ideal Mobility Solutions, which 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 involved statements from 35 victims, many of which are elderly or disabled and included 10 victims from Nottinghamshire.

The amount of money taken from the victims ranged from £200 to £5,000 and totalled £50,000.

Coun Mick Murphy, chairman of the council’s community safety committee, said: “Sharpe and Simpson ruthlessly preyed on vulnerable people with his mobility aid scam with no concern about the impact of his crimes on his victims.

“They 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.

“Their scam has also been very emotionally distressing for the victims involved, many of whom are disabled or elderly.

“The judge commended Trading Standards officers from Nottinghamshire County Council and the East Midlands Scambusters Team along with Derbyshire and South Yorkshire Police for bringing this complex case to court.

“We encourage anyone who is approached by a telephone or doorstep salesperson to say no to avoid being a target of a scam.”

The Trading Standards’ Proceeds of Crime team will now begin proceedings to recoup profits that the two offenders have made from the scam.