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Desperate broker's £185,000 ($266,678) identity fraud


A crooked broker claimed to be a college principal and NHS trust boss as part of a series of frauds in which he obtained more than £180,000.

Stephen Richmond's cons straddled Britain and involved numerous companies.

Richmond, 50, of Main Street, Menston, was jailed for two and a half years after he pleaded guilty to five offences of fraud.

He asked for numerous offences to be taken into account.

The court also heard how Richmond faked doctors' notes in a bid to delay his sentencing.

Working as an independent financial broker, he posed as a number of people.

Richmond created fictional applications for finance for the supposed purchases of computing equipment. Most of the transactions were done via email and telephone. Funds obtained went into his bank accounts and were used to pay off credit card debts.

Richmond later gave police a number of reasons for his offending, from being targeted by loan sharks, to setting up business projects and being greedy.

Richmond's scams came to light after the collapse of the banking systems when finance companies looked closer at outstanding loans. The offences occurred between August 2008 and February 2009.

His assets have been frozen and North West Leeds Police will apply for the funds to be repaid under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

In one case Richmond claimed to have arranged for the supply of computer equipment to the NHS Trust.

The fraud was exposed when the NHS Trust chief received a copy of the lease and confirmed that he had not ordered the software and it was not his signature.

Richmond later confessed he had devised the scheme to "bring in money", and promised to repay it. He repaid £10,000 obtained from another fraud.

In another scam Richmond forged the name of Freda Bridge, principal of Trinity and All Saints College, Horsforth, Leeds.

After his arrest, in January 2009, documents including letterheads and invoices used in the frauds were found.

Evidence was also found that he had practiced Ms Bridge's signature.

Michael Greenhalgh, for Richmond, told Leeds Crown Court the total loss as a result of the offences was around £185,000.

He said the offences came about after the father-of-three was made redundant.

He tried to set up his own software business but it did not make any money and he came under pressure to pay off debts.

Mr Greenhalgh said: "He has lost his reputation and good character and his marriage as a result of this and his children will inevitably suffer as he was the main breadwinner in the family.

"Of course, he accepts he should have thought about that before he committed the offences."

He made full and frank admissions about the offences after his arrest.

Judge Rodney Grant told Richmond that a jail sentence was inevitable.

He said: "These offences were fraudulent and professionally planned by you."

He added: "I am satisfied that those offences were not committed to finance a high living or anything of the sort.

"You committed these offences because of the financial difficulties involved."

By Bruce Smith and Tony Gardner


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