East Lancashire scam fraudster sent to prison

A FRAUDSTER who acted as a ‘lieutenant’ in a £740,000 publishing scam, with victims around the UK, has been jailed for more than four years.

Liam Dinsdale, 29, was living the high life, driving around in a Maserati car, as he pocketed around £150,000, for his role in a false advertising sting.

But hard-working victims had seen their lives ‘destroyed’ by the ‘cruel and callous’ con, which saw businessmen and women sold bogus adverts for non-existent publications, then tricked into believing they had signed up for long-running block bookings.

Gang members then made threatening phone calls to those they targeted, sent ‘bailiffs’ to their homes and businesses, and threatened to have their properties repossessed, Preston Crown Court was told.

Dinsdale, of Alkincoats Road, Colne, was responsible for operating a protection scam, which kicked in after those duped had been repeatedly stung for advert payments.

Prosecutors said Dinsdale was involved in the Publishers’ Investment Bureau (PIB), which rang the fraud victims, claiming they could expose the bogus publishers who had been plaguing them with demands.

One victim, Peter Birch, who ran an agricultural firm in Cumbria, was stung for nearly £400,000, and Hampshire carpentry firm boss Norman Edwards, lost around £114,000 to the gang. Dinsdale posed as ‘Mr Ellis’ from PIB to persuade him to hand over £20,000 in 2011, to rid himself of advertising debts.

Later he rang, again as Mr Ellis, saying that some of his previous advert payments had not been successful, as the seller had been banned as a company director, and he needed £2,400 to sue the suspect publisher, which Mr Birch handed over.

Dinsdale was also later involved in persuading Mr Edwards to hand over £17,775 to another shell company, Safe and Sound.

The court heard he then posed as different ‘advisors’ to call Mr Edwards, with each claiming that the other was cheating him, to con him out of £30,000.

Prosecutors said there were seven main victims. The scam was only uncovered when Mr Birch’s accountants came across hefty advertising bills while doing his annual returns.

The court heard Dinsdale, when arrested, was driving a Maserati car and had £40,000 with him. Dinsdale admitted conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering and was jailed for four years and seven months.

Rudi Lockett, 24, of Garnett Street, Barrowford, and Alistair Eccles, 31, of Castle Road, Colne, who admitted money laundering, were jailed for 30 months and given a 15-month suspended prison sentence respectively, for helping set up bank accounts for the scam. Lockett also pleaded guilty to wounding.

Four other men, from Greater Manchester and Merseyside, involved in setting up the scam, were given jail terms ranging from 18 months to 57 months.

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