Bogus Bailiffs Jailed Over £500,000 Pensioner Scam

A gang of conmen have been jailed after stealing close to half a million pounds in an elaborate three-year debt collection scam. Wayne Mark McCreery, 50, of St Andrews Road, Stretford, Manchester and Liam Dinsdale, 38, of Varley Street, Colne, posed as court bailiffs to con victims out of more than £470,000 over a three-year period between 2015 and 2018.

The bulk of that money came from just one victim, an elderly businessman from North Yorkshire. The fraudsters contacted the pensioner, who was in his 70s, claiming to be from a debt recovery agency appointed by the courts to recover unpaid business advertising costs. The victim was pressured into agreeing to make regular payments to the pair’s bogus set up on the threat of being summoned to court and facing further penalties.

The con artists leeched £410,000 out of the businessman until police were finally alerted in October 2018.

That triggered a lengthy and complex investigation in which forensic financial specialists had to be brought in to unravel how the gang had hidden their ill-gotten gains. Along with McCreery and Dinsdale, seven other family members and associates either admitted or were found guilty of money laundering offences.

McCreery and Dinsdale pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud. McCreery was sentenced to four years’ in prison at Bradford Crown Court, with Dinsdale due to be sentenced at a later date.

Be on your guard

The case further highlights the ongoing threat posed by fraudsters who use debt collection as a racket for swindling people out of money. Preying on people’s fears and often targeting the vulnerable, such criminals often pose as court bailiffs to give their claims a false ring of legitimacy - even though their victims often have no outstanding debts, never mind claims for unpaid debts being pursued through the courts.

As we raised in our previous post about the spate of text message scams involving bogus bailiffs, the best advice is to always be on your guard if a claim for debt recovery arrives out of the blue.

As a legitimate debt collection agency that is proud of doing what we do the right way, we can assure you that we will never contact debtors by text or cold call, and we will never conduct or threaten to conduct home visitors. Reputable debt recovery services, including genuine court enforcement officers, will always contact you in writing and provide full details of the debt.

If in doubt, we recommend following the guidance of UK Finance’s Take Five campaign that aims to raise awareness about the warning signs of repayment scams:

  • Stop to give yourself time to think before you respond to any claim for money,
  • Challenge anything that doesn’t sound right,
  • Protect yourself by reporting concerns to Action Fraud, as well as contacting your bank if you think you have had money taken fraudulently.

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