Cold caller jailed after St Albans scam

St Albans Crown Court

St Albans Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A COLD caller who convinced businesses they had to have mandatory tests of their drinking water was sentenced to 28 days in prison after appearing at St Albans Crown Court on Monday (11).

John Richmond targeted businesses in St Albans, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City with the scam and traded as Westminster Environmental Protection.

The court heard some firms immediately thought Richmond was from a local authority and all the businesses assumed there would be no costs involved.

At the end of his visits in March 2011 he would ask for his paperwork to be signed. Those who signed were unknowingly agreeing to a minimum 12-month contract and two tests. Richmond then sent the test results with a bill for £808.80.

During police interviews, Richmond said he would never lie about where he was from and if asked would say that it wasn’t compulsory to have the tests done and explain the costs.

On Monday the 69 year old, of Sutherland Close, Barnet, pleaded guilty to eight regulatory offences under the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations (2008).

He was sentenced to 28 days imprisonment for each offence and was ordered to pay £2,000 in court costs. His sentences will run concurrently and are suspended for two years.

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When sentencing Judge Bright QC described Richmond’s offence as pre-meditated, well-planned and designed to deceive and that his “sales pitch” was a fraud in any other language.

Richard Thake, Herts county council cabinet member for community safety, said: “I’m glad the judge viewed this case as seriously as we did.

“This sentence should serve as a deterrent to anyone thinking they can get away with deceiving consumers.

“Hertfordshire Trading Standards will continue to protect individuals and businesses from such illegal practices.”