Sunderland dad spared jail after helping crime gang fleece £16,700 from 86-year-old
A Sunderland dad has been handed a suspended jail term for helping conmen fleece an 86-year-old man out of thousands of pounds.
Vehicle trader Keaton Trott, 24, allowed his bank account to be used for the transfer of £16,700 by the unsuspecting victim.
Trott, of Kismet Street, Southwick, then withdrew it in two instalments and handed it to the crime gang in cash.
But he may also have been duped – he told detectives he never collected his promised £400 reward for his role in the rip-off.
South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard he met up with a stranger in Sunderland in the summer of 2018 and was lulled into the scam.
Prosecutor Leanne Duffy said at the same time, the victim was approached by a fraudster claiming to be a policeman at his home in Ruislip, Greater London.
He was told a £4,000 roof repair job carried out three months earlier had been done as a scam and he owed £16,700 in VAT.
Ms Duffy said he was warned to pay the full amount into a Lloyd’s bank account by 4pm that day or trouble would follow.
That account was Trott’s – and the transfer followed on time, but the victim grew suspicious and contacted police the next day.
Trott withdrew the cash and handed it to a gang member at a meet up on Wearside.
When quizzed by Metropolitan Police detectives, Trott, who was cash-strapped, claimed not to have taken his cut.
Ms Duffy added: “A white male knocked on the door of this gentleman and said that he was a police officer, and showed ID.
“He said another officer, Barry Bishop, would contact him. Barry Bishop said the work on the roof had been a scam. He said VAT was owed.
“He said he would have to go to his bank and transfer £16,700 by 4pm that day.”
Chris Wilson, defending, said: “Mr Trott was told that it wasn’t anything illegal. He didn’t really know these males.
“He just thought that they wanted an account for the money. If he had known, he would never have allowed his bank account to be used.
“He was just a conduit. He’s learned from this. The perpetrators of this have never been identified.”
Deputy District Judge Gary Garland sentenced Trott to 12 weeks behind bars, suspended for 12 months.
Judge Garland told him it was only his remorse, new employment and that he became a dad just a week ago that had spared him jail.
He said: “If there aren’t facilitators, there wouldn’t be major criminals. I can’t believe anybody would have fallen for that.
“When quick money is available, if it looks too good, it almost always is too good.
“It’s clear that you are remorseful, and your situation has also changed, you have a young child and are working.
“It’s because there’s been this turnaround that allows me to not send you to custody today.
“Think yourself lucky, Mr Trott, what possessed you to get involved with people like that.
“Scam artists and fraudsters should be avoided like the plague.”
Trott pleaded guilty to concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing criminal property between August 15 and August 16, 2018.