It started off small - then he'd mercilessly got his hands on £185,000

-Credit: (Image: GMP)
-Credit: (Image: GMP)

A cruel conman fleeced a blind piano tuner out of £185,000 in a fraud lasting years. Mark Stanner, 42, used a call centre company in Manchester as a front and bombarded the vulnerable victim with phone calls, text messages and e-mails, police said as he was locked up.

The man, who is aged in his 50s and has been blind since birth, was told by Stanner that he owed money to publications for piano tuning adverts.

Greater Manchester Police said the demands started in 2017 and were for 'small' amounts at first, but 'progressively got more and more aggressive and frequent'. The force said the victim, who hasn't been named, paid the initial demands, asking Stanner to leave him alone if he handed over the sums.

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But further demands followed, and police said the man had to borrow money from friends and family. He even had to buy specialist braille software in order to read a string of fake invoices Stanner had created.

A spokesperson for GMP said he was also threatened. The force said in a statement: "In some instances, Stanner left the victim with as little as half an hour to pay his demands, such as asking him to pay £4,000 within an hour, and he threatened that he would come and take his property if he didn't meet the demands."

Detectives from GMP's Economic Crime Unit uncovered the fraud and built up a case against the fraudster.

Jailed: Marvin Scott -Credit:GMP
Jailed: Marvin Scott -Credit:GMP

Stanner, of Brocklehurst Avenue, Macclesfield, has now been jailed for five-and-a-half years after he was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court.

His sister Martina Turner, 43, of Sunnyside Road, Droylsden, Tameside, allowed £31,000 of the victim's money to pass through her account to mask her brother Stanner's crimes, police said. She, too, was convicted and given an 18-month suspended sentence alongside 200 hours of unpaid work.

Marvin Scott, 40, of Charlestown Road, Moston, north Manchester, was also convicted after he allowed £48,000 to move through his bank accounts to conceal the finances for Stanner. Scott was jailed for 31 months.

Detective Constable Michelle Wilkinson, of GMP's Economic Crime Team, said: "Stanner has shown no remorse throughout our investigation and actively sought to conceal his finances by enlisting the help of Turner and Scott, who kept money in their accounts for Stanner.

"Sadly, this case demonstrates how easy it is for people to fall victim to fraudsters, especially when they are convincing. The victim was vulnerable and Stanner took advantage of this. I hope he spends his time in jail thinking about the consequences of his actions.

"We would like to use this opportunity to provide crime prevention advice to individuals across Greater Manchester - we want to equip our communities with advice on how to reduce the chances of falling victim to fraud.

"Look out for unexpected contact from unknown companies asking for your money. The likelihood is that this is fraudulent.

"With cases like this, it is common there is no written invoice prior to the payment, just a demand for money with little to no explanation of why they need to be paid. Fraudsters will often say that the payment is urgent and will accompany the demand for money with immediate threats of bailiffs and debt collectors, putting pressure on victim's to part with their money."