NEWSFLASH: Five men convicted of defrauding Melton Council out of more than £200,000

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Five men have been convicted after they defrauded Melton Council out of more than £200,000 of taxpayers’ money.

One of the tricksters was found guilty of fraud when he appeared at Leicester Crown Court yesterday (Thursday) after the other four admitted the offence at an earlier hearing.

The council today welcomed the verdict and pledged to attempt to recover some of the money through the proceeds of crime act.

Four the conmen were from Glasgow - Robert Brown (59), Garry Easton (46), Stephen Best 42) and 31-year-old Robert Jackson, while the fifth, Kevin Martin (42) is from Birkenhead, Merseyside.

The offence dates back to August 2013 and resulted in the council being deceived into paying the gang £205,449.

The authority received an email, which they believed to be from a legitimate council service provider, which requested that the bank details they held for the organisation were amended.

The request seemed plausible and the email appeared to be genuine. The following month the legitimate organisation contacted the council regarding some unpaid invoices and the deception came to light.

Det Con Andy Cree from the Leicestershire force’s economic crime unit, said: “This was a lengthy and complex investigation which took our enquiries as far as Scotland and Ireland.

“The six defendants believed they were untouchable and by using various bank accounts to move the money, they thought they were covering their tracks.

“This conviction is a testament to the thorough investigation, and, with the support of Police Scotland, we were able to identify four of the defendants who were from the Glasgow area.

“It was a substantial amount of money for the local authority to lose - ultimately the money is used to provide services in the community, so it’s not just Melton Borough Council that has been affected it’s the wider local public.”

Councillor Joe Orson, the council’s leader, said: “I am pleased with the outcome and the council will continue to support the good work already carried out by the police in bringing this matter before the court to a conclusion.

“The council remains out of pocket as a result of this fraud and will now be looking to see what can be recovered from the Proceeds of Crime Act.”

The convicted men are all due to sentenced on February 16 at Derby Crown Court.