Parking fraudster sent to prison

Leslie Smith of Minsterworth, Gloucestershire, trading as “Ringway Traffic Management”, “Traffic Management Solutions” and “Highway Safety Link”, was sentenced today at Bristol Crown Court to 16 months imprisonment for Fraudulent Trading contrary to Section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006.

Leslie Smith of Minsterworth, Gloucestershire, trading as “Ringway Traffic Management”, “Traffic Management Solutions” and “Highway Safety Link”, was sentenced today at Bristol Crown Court to 16 months imprisonment for Fraudulent Trading contrary to Section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006.

This follows a lengthy investigation by the National Trading Standards South West Scambusters Team, which resulted in Smith pleading guilty in April 2014 for fraudulently trading between 2008 and 2012. Smith had committed offences across the country which saw 30 victims caught in a scam depriving churches, schools and charities of over £57,000.

Smith would cold call on consumers – particularly schools, health centres, community centres and religious establishments – and offer a price per metre or foot for marking white lines in car parks.

Smith would falsely claim that he was working on behalf of the Local Authority Highways and had been working on roads nearby with paint left over. Sometimes he would tell the consumer there was a legal requirement to have certain work done.

Once the work was completed, which was invariably of a poor quality and quite often involved more work than had been authorised, a demand was made for a grossly inflated bill. Many consumers refused to pay, but money that did exchange hands started from around £400 to well over £1000.

Sentencing Smith, Judge Cotter made the following observations:

“This was an ongoing operation for over 41/2 years showing deep seated and pervasive dishonesty”

“It’s clear this is a sophisticated operation with forward planning”

“You preyed on the good nature of religious organisations, schools and doctors surgeries and the effect on the community is obvious”

Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:

“I urge everyone to think twice before agreeing to have work done by a cold-caller – recent figures indicate that there are around 169,000 cases every year where people are conned by cold-calling rogue traders. These fraudsters are often very plausible so do check references and credentials before paying out any money. If you are in any doubt, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.

“I am delighted to see that justice has been served for the dishonest practices Mr Smith pursued to defraud these organisations, many of which are charitable or voluntary organisations. I congratulate all those involved in helping us reach this verdict, including the witnesses and all of the National Trading Scambusters Teams involved.”

Smith was eventually arrested and identified by witnesses as the man behind the scam and he entered a guilty plea at a hearing on Friday 25th April 2014 at Bristol Crown Court.

The locations of the offences spanned the country, including Cheshire, Derbyshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Humberside, Kent, Sussex, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Northumberland, London & Birmingham.

Central to the case were the two other names used by Smith in order to avoid detection by the authorities. These were Paul Lee and Ian Taylor and Smith had gone to great lengths in creating these different identities.

Enquiries with DVLA showed that they held details of driving licences in the name of Leslie Smith born 24/02/1975, Leslie Smith born 24/02/1972 and Paul Lee born 24/02/1975.

Enquiries with HM Passport Office showed that they held details of passports in the name of Leslie Smith born 24/02/1975 and Paul Lee born 24/02/1975.

HMRC confirmed that a photograph identity card in the name of Ian Taylor was false.

These documents were handed to an expert in facial mapping who reported that the similarities lend strong support to show that they are one and the same person, Leslie Smith.

Smith was subsequently charged with the offence as outlined and has received an appropriate sentence for the distress and financial loss caused to the many victims caught up in this heartless scam.

The Senior Investigator, John Jacobs said “Leslie Smith is an unscrupulous rogue trader who convinced churches, schools and medical practices that he was a genuine highways worker. South West Scambusters worked exceptionally hard to bring this fraudulent trader to justice. This was an extremely complex case and our case officer worked tirelessly and travelled extensively to gather the evidence that resulted in Smith’s arrest, prosecution and subsequent prison sentence.”

Notes to Editors

About National Trading Standards 

  • National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
  • The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.

National Trading Standards funds the Scambuster Teams that target rogue trading, doorstep crime and scams, providing support across England and Wales through eight regionally based teams:

  1. Central England Trading Standards Authorities (CeNTSA)
  2. North East Trading Standards Authorities (NETSA)
  3. Trading Standards East Midlands (TSEM)
  4. Trading Standards North West (TSNW)
  5. Tri Region Scambusters (TRS), on behalf of Trading Standards South East Ltd (TSSEL), East of England Trading Standards Association (EETSA) and London Trading Standards Association (LoTSA)
  6. Trading Standards Partnership South West (SWERCOTS)
  7. Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards Group (YAHTSG) and
  8. Wales Heads of Trading Standards (WHoTS)

There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland. 

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