Fraudsters Jailed For £2.7m Retailers Scam

Becky Johnson, North of England Correspondent

An "audacious" gang who scammed well-known retailers out of millions of pounds of goods have been jailed.

The ringleader of the fraud, Kevin Pomeroy, 47, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison. His nephew, 25-year-old Daniel Pomeroy, was jailed for three-and-a-half years, while their accomplice, James Chapman, 22, was jailed for three years.

The gang posed as employees of food outlets McDonald's and Greggs, using the names of existing workers but setting up fake email addresses.

In total, 13 companies fell victim to the scam, recording losses totalling £2.7m.

Among the goods the gang received but never paid for were 400 PlayStation games consoles from HMV, 400 HD televisions from Alba, 800 Dell laptops and 20,000 bottles of champagne from Marks and Spencer.

One firm, Celltec Limited, lost £400,000 and went into liquidation as a result of the scam, leaving 40 employees redundant.

Kevin Pomeroy's wife, Julie, was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence for money laundering.

The pair used proceeds from selling on the stolen goods to fund a lavish lifestyle.

At their £350,000 house in Failsworth, near Oldham, they collected rare sports memorabilia and expensive jewellery.

They drove high-powered cars and rented a luxury holiday home in Spain.

Sentencing the gang at Manchester Crown Court, Judge Michael Henshell said: "They were audacious offences, carefully conceived and planned in fine detail."

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Pester, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "One of the biggest problems facing the UK right now is this sort of impersonation or hijacking of corporate identities, which is costing the economy millions of pounds every year.

"This organised crime group successfully obtained £3m of goods and if they had succeeded with every fraud, they would have pocketed just shy of £20m worth.

"That is a staggering amount and if you consider this sort of scam could be happening across the UK, the cost to the economy is eye-watering.

"Not only that, it feeds the black market which puts genuine retailers out of business as these goods find their way into people's homes.

"This gang went to meticulous lengths to research genuine employees of blue-chip firms and present a veneer of respectability.

"Using extremely plausible scenarios, they fooled a number of companies who had no reason to suspect the orders were anything other than legitimate.

"Sadly, some of the companies who were scammed did not do enough research once the fraudulent orders were placed. They were taken in by the promise of a big pay day, thinking they were dealing with blue-chip companies.

"Despite the sophistication of their scam, this still boils down to theft. In the end, they were not clever enough to avoid capture, or prison."