Mobility aid fraudster with 'gift of the gab' jailed for five years
A MOBILITY aid salesman who conned vulnerable people – including Derbyshire pensioners – out of £50,000 has been jailed for five years.
Darren Sharpe conned his 35 victims, many of whom were elderly or disabled, by working under the company name of Ideal Mobility Solutions.
He mainly mis-sold ordinary mattress covers that he claimed had health benefits for ailments such as bad backs and stiff joints.
They were sold for up to £300 each when they were only worth about £30.
A pensioner in Sunny Hill and an elderly woman in Quarndon paid out £300 each for mattress covers, which were not even delivered.
Sharpe, 42, also sold mobility aids such as scooters and stair lifts at an inflated price or did not deliver the goods, while unauthorised transactions from credit cards were taken as part of the scam.
An 81-year-old man, from Long Eaton, who was conned said Sharpe had the "gift of the gab".
George Withnall, who has arthritis and two crushed vertebrae, said him and his wife had been devastated by the fraud and felt "like the earth fell" beneath them when they realised they would not get their money back.
Sharpe, of The Park, Mansfield, admitted participating in a fraudulent business between January and April 2011 and fraudulent trading dating from April 2011 to January last year.
He also pleaded guilty to nine offences of fraud put to him by Derbyshire police and five fraud offences put by South Yorkshire police.
Derbyshire and South Yorkshire police worked alongside Nottinghamshire County Council's Trading Standards, which instigated the investigation.
He was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court.
Christopher Andrew Simpson, who worked with Sharpe in the company, also admitted participating in a fraudulent business between January and April 2011 and fraudulent trading dating from April 2011 to January last year.
The 47-year-old, of Loughborough Road, West Bridgford, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.