GP's evidence helps jail phone fraudsters targeting small businesses

Evidence submitted to a court by Essex GP Dr John Cormack has helped to jail two fraudsters.

Daniel Cullen, 29, and Daniel Buttle, 32, claimed they were working for BT and told small businesses that they needed to change their phone lines from analogue to digital.

The pair were able to sell expensive phone systems and equipment that were completely unnecessary to small businesses.

Customers signed up thinking it was for a year only, but later when documentation arrived through the post, they were horrified to find they were tied into expensive leases that ran for years.

Cullen and Buttle had formed two companies solely for the purpose of fraud and a court heard that the combined turnover in just a few months came to £870,000.

Cullen was able to pay himself £135,000 and Buttle took drawings of £125,000.

But St Albans Crown Court in Hertfordshire was told on Monday that a further £147,000 had disappeared.

In the dock, Cullen of Oakdens Court, Hoddesdon and Buttle, of Portland Road, Bishop's Stortford, both Hertfordshire, admitted two offences of fraudulent trading.

Cullen admitted a further offence of conspiracy to defraud.

Miles Bennett, prosecuting the pair on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council's trading standards department, told how Cullen and Buttle in 2008 formed two companies in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, solely for the purpose of setting up fraud.

Cullen had decided, said Mr Bennett, to carry out fraud in Hertfordshire.

The plan was to tell 'lie upon lie' that analogue phone systems would soon be out of date and digital systems had to be installed.

Dr John Cormack, a GP in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, said that he was one of the victims targeted by the fraudsters.

He said he was visited by Buttle who was using the pseudonym James Paige.

Dr Cormack said he decided to record conversations with Buttle on a dictaphone when he began to suspect that things weren’t right.

‘My biggest worry was that there would be some catch,’ he said.

‘I was worried that they would charge premium rates for patients.’

Dr Cormack said he submitted his recordings to Hertfordshire trading standards, along with written documentation, which was evidence in the Cullen and Buttle case.

Dr Cormack said the ‘best thing’ he did was making the recordings, which have given him a ‘certain amount of protection’ from leasing companies trying to obtain further fees.

Passing sentence, Judge Martin Griffith said the pair had been guilty of a large scale fraud.

He jailed Cullen for a total of three years and Buttle for 18 months.

Both were disqualified from being directors of a company.

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