Defrauded Lowestoft charity set for compensation

A LOWESTOFT charity that fell victim to fraudsters is set to receive a �24,000 compensation payout from the men who conned it out of much-needed funds.

The Lowestoft 60+ Club in Clapham Road lost thousands of pounds after being convinced by a Great Yarmouth-based firm that it needed to upgrade its telephone system,

The charity, which provides a place for elderly people to socialise, was persuaded to sign a lengthy contract that obliged it to make 87 quarterly payments for new equipment.

However, club officials became suspicious about its contract with Business Telecom and contacted trading standards officers who told them the equipment was, in fact, not needed.

Last week, the Lowestoft 60+ Club was one of several organisations across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex that were told they would receive nearly �200,000 between them as result of the Business Telecom fraud.

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Jack Blyth, the club's treasurer, told The Journal that, because of the fraud, the charity had been forced to use money from its reserves which were set aside for unforeseen costs and emergencies.

Mr Blyth said: 'It (the fraud) did not impact on the services to the elderly we provide. The money came from our reserves. Those reserves are for things which you never know could just be around the corner.

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'It is very good news for the club that we have got the compensation.'

Last year, the boss of Business Telecom Ltd, Christopher Boughton-Fox, and his sales manager, Jonathan Parrish, were both found guilty of conspiracy to defraud customers between 2003 and 2008.

Boughton-Fox, 49, of Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich, was jailed for seven years and Parrish, 43, of The Hills, Reedham was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

During a 10-week trial, a jury at Ipswich Crown Court heard that salesmen from the firm persuaded customers to sign contracts for new telephone systems.

Although they were told a cashback scheme meant the phones were free, customers were in fact signing up for expensive leasing agreements that typically cost between �10,000 and �35,000 over seven years or more.

The court heard that Boughton-Fox had an annual salary of �600,000 while Parrish could earn up to �40,000 a month.

Last Wednesday, Boughton-Fox and Parrish were brought back to court for a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

At the conclusion of the proceedings, Judge Peter Thompson found that although Boughton-Fox had benefited from the fraud by about �1.3m the available amount was only �179,000 and a confiscation order was made in that sum.

Parrish was found to have benefited by �1.4m and the available amount in his case was determined as �304,991.

A separate confiscation order was made in that sum.

David Wilson, prosecuting, supplied the court with a compensation schedule totalling �196,686, which included the names of 16 schools, businesses and charities which had lost money as a result of their dealings with Business Telecom.

Judge Thompson divided the sum between the two defendants and ordered that compensation should be paid out of the confiscation orders.

The compensation is being paid to:

Rattleesden Primary School, �22,228;

West Row Primary School, �122,995;

Pot Kiln Primary School, Sudbury, �12,000;

Elmers Hardware, Kesgrave, �5,800;

BMS Imaging, Ipswich, �19,815

Lowestoft 60+ Club, �24,000;

Meadowgreen Dog Rescue, Loddon, �10,000.

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