Bolton fraudsters cost company 'hundreds of thousands of pounds' with bogus insulation grants scam
FRAUDSTERS operating out of a base in Bolton have cost a company “hundreds of thousands of pounds”.
The five men carried out a complex scam involving bogus claims for loft insulation grants — at a block of flats.
Yesterday they were sentenced at Bolton Crown Court after they admitted they had made dozens of bogus claims for the installation of insulation at the flats in Bradford.
Managing director of Polypearl, Ian Webb, who employed the men at the now defunct branch in Middlebrook, Horwich, says the crime has had a devastating impact on the firm.
He added: “When we discovered this fraudulent practice within the business we informed the police.
“We are the real victims because this has cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds.”
Parvaiz Khan, aged 30, of Ashbourne Grove, Halifax; Stuart Bilsborough, aged 22, of Balshaw Lane, Chorley; Gerard Gent, aged 33, of Ash Grove, Darwen; Christopher Howorth, aged 44, of Crofters Bank, Rossendale; and Liam Wilson, aged 23, of Buckshaw Hall Close, Chorley, admitted charges of conspiracy to commit fraud by submitting fraudulent and duplicate invoices for loft insulation work supposedly done at the Bradford flats.
David Lees, prosecuting, told the court the plot was hatched not long after Polypearl established a branch in Horwich to cover Bolton and surrounding areas.
The men were employed to carry out surveys and loft installations, which in turn would lead to grants being invoiced to energy suppliers.
The fraud came to light after the energy firms noticed that the bill payer for the Bradford properties was different from the names on the bogus invoices submitted, and police were called in.
Mr Lees said: "There were 81 bogus claims by Khan at Regency Court, many of which related to ground floor and first floors flats, which had no lofts. Khan was the surveyor but the flats had not been surveyed and he was getting paid for something he was not doing for which he received more than £5,900."
Howorth and Gent made up to 75 claims for grants for insulation work that had not been carried out, while Wilson made five claims and Bilsborough made bogus claims for £427.
Sentencing the men, Recorder John Bromley-Davenport, said: "This was a well planned conspiracy. You five men had perfectly good jobs and the trust of your employer.
“Your job was to make a report and carry out work on each property, instead you chose to augment this work by making false claims for ground floor and first floor flats where there were no lofts, all completely fraudulently, thus throwing the trust of the firm back in their faces.
"I suspect that, as you are all of previous good character, you are thoroughly ashamed of yourselves and you are fortunate on this occasion, as people who breach the trust of their employers, would normally get a custodial sentence."
Khan was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for two years, told to repay £5,965 and undertake 140 hours of unpaid community work, Gent was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, 80 hours of community service and to repay £826.
Howorth was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, 80 hours community service and to repay £682, Wilson was sentenced to serve 50 hours community service and to repay £110, while Bilsborough was ordered to undertake 50 hours community service and repay £110.