September Newsletter, from Kent County Councillor Geoffrey Lymer
Fraudster ordered to pay back £8,000 to his victims
A doorstep criminal recently jailed for more than five years after being convicted of numerous fraud offences, has now been ordered to pay back a total of £8,000 of his illegal gains.
This follows a confiscation hearing at Canterbury Crown Court brought by Kent County Council’s Trading Standards team, under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Raymond Sharpless conned 18 victims out of nearly £40,000, mostly through shoddy workmanship, and in February he was jailed for five years and one month.
Sharpless, formerly from New Romney, conned victims across Kent, Sussex and London, after advertising a variety of professional services, including plastering, roofing, groundworks and chair restoration and responding to jobs posted on trade websites.
He visited unsuspecting victims and secured deposits on the promise of carrying out the agreed work. Sharpless would often fail to return to correct work of a poor standard and, in several cases, he failed to hand back precious furniture he took for restoration.
Clive Phillips, KCC’s Trading Standards Operations Manager for Complex Investigations, said: “This sends a clear message; not only will we leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of serious and persistent doorstep criminals, we will also seek to claw back their ill-gotten gains.
“Although not all Sharpless’s criminal benefit is to be recovered at least some of it has and, in this case, it will be returned to the victims. If we identify assets in the future, we will go back court and ask them to reconsider the order.”
Sharpless defrauded victims across the South East for 27 months, sometimes under his own name but he was also known as Mark Price, operating at least 11 different business names and three separate websites.
In sentencing at the hearing in February, Judge James O’Mahony described Sharpless as “a conman of epic proportions” and said: “As for building work, floor laying, roof work, damp problems, plastering, renovation, electrics, you have as much skill an expertise as I have, which is nil.”
Residents are urged to do their research before instructing people to work on their homes. Trading Standards recommend you obtain at least three quotes and never pay cash in advance, never allow cold callers to tell you have an urgent problem with the structure of your property, such as loose roof tiles, guttering problems which they are prepared to rectify for you immediately, you will be at great risk of incurring a poor job being carried out or paying an extortionate bill.
If you have been the victim of a doorstep criminal or need advice on your statutory rights residents can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Advice Service on 03454 040506.
Kent County Councillor
Dover West Ward