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Crime Gang Which Targetted North Yorkshire Victims Fined £400,000


5:26pm 18th April 2013

Six members of a gang who deliberately targeted hundreds of vulnerable and elderly people in a gardening and roofing scam were today made the subject of a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act at Teesside Crown Court and ordered to compensate their victims, following a financial investigation by North Yorkshire County Council ‘s Trading Standards and Planning Services. They were found to have benefited from their crimes by a total of £1,338,047.40.

The gang includes five members of the Price family from Brigg, Humberside, and one of their associates, James Frank Cunningham, from Castleford.  They were sentenced to a total of just under 25 years imprisonment in July 2011 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud, multiple counts of money laundering and, in relation to David Price Sr, theft.  James Frank Cunningham was also sentenced for carrying out a distraction burglary at the home of a 99-year-old woman in Batley, West Yorkshire in November 2010.

Today, they were found to have benefited from crime by the following amounts:

David Price (Sr), 44 - £455,629

Angelina Price aka Nicholson (wife of above), 42 – £509,384.56

Abraham John Price (eldest son of the above couple), 22 – £54,326.42

David “Davy” James Price (Jr) (youngest son of the above couple), 21 – £54,055.68

Shane Lee Price (Sr) (brother of David Price Sr), 43 – £22,224.75

James Frank Cunningham, 28 – £296,482.63

They were ordered to repay a total of £413,948.35, and individually the following amounts:

David Price (Sr) - £368,350.77

Angelina Price aka Nicholson (wife of above) – £22,149.60

Abraham John Price (eldest son of the above couple) 20 – £6,412.31

David “Davy” James Price (Jr) (youngest son of the above couple) – £3,852.17

Shane Lee Price (Sr) (brother of David Price Sr) – £3,607.50

James Frank Cunningham – £9,576

All defendants have been given both a set time to pay (varying between 28 days and 9 months) and a default prison sentence which will have to be served if they fail to pay (varying between 2 months and 3 years).

The criminal investigation, which was carried out by North Yorkshire trading standards officers over eighteen months, revealed the lengths to which the gang would go to press their victims - some in their 90s and extremely frail, many suffering from dementia - to pay for work which was rarely ever done.

One 85 year old was pressurised to part with £52,000; another lady, over 80 and the sole carer of a husband with dementia, was defrauded of over £23,000 for gardening work.  In some cases the gang made repeat visits to victims, extorting money based on false claims about the need for the work, the work that had been carried out, how much it would cost and the need for further work.

As the investigation developed, North Yorkshire’s trading standards team traced hundreds of payments into multiple bank accounts held by the gang and their associates. These payments were identified as having been made, in the majority of cases, by numerous elderly and vulnerable consumers throughout the Yorkshire and Humber region and across many other counties including Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire.

The investigation originally began in May 2009 when elderly residents in Thirsk complained about gardening work they had had carried out, following cold calls by doorstep traders. They had been charged excessive prices for small amounts of gardening work. This coincided with the Price family and Cunningham being resident on a temporary illegal travellers’ site just off the A1 at Dishforth, North Yorkshire, in May 2009.

Making the order today in relation to David Price Sr, His Honour Judge Crowson said:

“My overall view was of a man who, whilst seeking to appear fair-minded, merely pretended to be making concessions as to expenditure when he was, at all times, seeking to mislead me so as to reduce his potential liability.”

After the hearing David Bowe, North Yorkshire County Council’s Director of Business and Environmental Services said:  “We are absolutely determined to use every tool available to us to protect vulnerable residents in this county from doorstep crime and to achieve justice for them, including compensation payments, when they have been defrauded by such appalling offenders as these.

“The Proceeds of Crime Act is an extremely valuable tool which is available to us and the courts to ensure that crime does not pay and that victims in cases such as this get their hard earned savings back.

“We are delighted with this result and hope it sends yet another very clear message to offenders – you are not welcome in North Yorkshire and if you come here and offend in this way, you will face the full force of our powers.”

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