Five people were sentenced by a judge today (Friday) after they defrauded Melton Council out of more than £200,000.
Back in August 2013, the authority received an email 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.
But the following month the legitimate organisation contacted the council regarding some unpaid invoices and the deception came to light.
As a result, the council was duped into paying £205,449 to the fraudsters.
The five perpetrators - four of them from Glasgow and one from Merseyside - were sentenced as follows at Leicester Crown Court:
Robert Brown (61), of Boyd Street, Glasgow, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to two years and three months in prison.
Kevin Martin (44), of Richardson Road, Birkenhead, Merseyside, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to one year and four months in prison, suspended for 20 months.
Garry Easton (47), of Henderland Road, Glasgow, was found guilty after a trial in December 2017 and was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to carry out 120 hours unpaid work.
Stephen Best (44), of Govanhill Street, Glasgow, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to one year and four months in prison, suspended for 20 months. He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours unpaid work.
And 32-year-old Robert Jackson, of Skaterigg Drive, Glasgow, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to one year and four months in prison, suspended for 20 months. He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours unpaid work.
Det Con Andy Cree, from Leicestershire Police’s economic crime unit, said: “This was a lengthy and complex investigation which took our enquiries as far as Scotland and Ireland.
“The five defendants believed they were untouchable and by using various bank accounts to move the money, they thought they were covering their tracks.
“This result 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, leader of the council, 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.”