Three fraudsters have been sentenced for a widespread scam using dud cheques at antiques fairs across the country.
At least seven or eight fairs and some
antiques centres were targeted, with 24 victims identified by 13
police forces dealing with the con, from July to October last
Desmond Askew, 50, his brother Stephen
Bond (also known as Askew), 52, and 53-year-old Kim Tyler, all of
Dereham, Norfolk, appeared at Norwich Crown Court on September 23.
Bond received six years and Askew four and a half, while Tyler was
given 18 months, suspended for 18 months, and 280 hours of unpaid
Charges included fraud and conspiracy
to commit fraud, some related to a vehicle scam.
DC Gail Morley, based at Kings Lynn
police station, co-ordinated the police investigation after the
scale of the offences became obvious.
She told ATG: "They have known all the
way along exactly what they are doing. They had among their
property all the flyers for antiques fairs wherever they were,
dates, times, and planned it out. They didn't care who saw them
because they thought it had been going on for so long they got so
blasé about it, and thought it was 'game on'."
It seems the fraudsters had set up a
firm and went to garages saying they were looking at buying a fleet
of vehicles, and could they test one for the weekend. They would
then take these different vehicles to fairs so it would be
difficult to trace them.
At the fairs, one man would be dressed
smartly and gain the confidence of the dealer and another would
then come up with the chequebook. One chequebook was actually in
the name of one of the men, while another was for a company they
had set up, but the accounts were closed down beforehand. Although
the cheques could then, of course, be traced back to the conmen,
they possibly took the risk that incidents would be considered as
separate civil matters and the scale of the scam not
But dealers, particularly John
Andrews, who contacted ATG about the matter last year, started to
come forward and the fraudsters were identified at
After they were spotted in
Leicestershire the vehicle details were noted down and by chance an
automatic registration plate check in London picked it up - so all
three conmen could be arrested at the same time.
The fraud totalled over £100,000, said
DC Morley, and much of the property (ranging from a pocket knife
and Moorcroft and Worcester vases to jewellery and diamond rings
worth several thousand pounds) has not been recovered.
She added: "A lot of these victims are
retired people and this was their pension; this is how they earn
their livings nowadays, particularly the people who lost the
jewellery. They said there's no point claiming on the insurance
because of the level their excess started at. They had their lives
turned upside down because I think it's more about the dignity side
of it - their pride. They had spoken to the Askews, taken them on
at good value and they have just been done over."