A man who conned more than £50,000 from elderly and vulnerable people has been jailed for five years. Darren Sharpe targeted his victims over a 15 month period.
He sold mobility aids which were often unsuitable and at vastly over-inflated prices, but when victims demanded their money back, Sharpe refused to give them a refund.
George Withnall and his wife Patricia have numerous health problems. He has arthritis and two crushed verterbrae. She has Parkinson's Disease as well as heart and thyroid problems.
To help cure his back problems Mr Withnall from Long Eaton in Derbyshire bought a bed from Darren Sharpe at a cost of £1500 pounds. But when the bed proved uncomfortable Sharpe refused to give them a refund.
– George Withnall
"I felt a bit disgusted with us being pensioners. I think were taken for a ride really. It cost me another £800 for a new bed, beside what we lost."
Today Sharpe who is from Mansfield appeared at Nottingham Crown Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to running a fraudulent Mobility Aids business and fraudulent trading.
Sharpe's victims were mostly elderly or disabled. Many of them had various conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson's Disease, or even heart conditions. Using high-pressure sales techniques he sold them products at vastly overinflated prices, that were either totally unsuitable or never delivered.
Investigating Officer Dave Porter showed an example of the mattresses being sold by Sharpe:
– Investigating Officer Dave Porter
"This is a mattress topper which has been seized from Sharpe.
"It's one which he would sell to people. He would initially go into the homes and say these things were selling for £600 and offer a discounted rice between £250 and £300 pounds. When infact these are readily available on the market on the high street for £30 pounds."
In total it is estimated that over a 15 month period Sharpe conned victims in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire, of more than £54,000 pounds. Today he was jailed for 5 years. Another man involved in the fraud, Christopher Simpson, was also jailed for 18 months.
It is not the first time people have been taken in by such con artists. In 2011 Shane and Laurence Johnson from Leicestershire were jailed for a year after falsely selling mobility products to hundreds of victims. Trading standards said there are some basics steps everyone can take to avoid becoming a scam victim.
– Paul Gretton, Trading Standards, East Midlands
"The best advice is never buy on the doorstep. You don't need to. There are plenty of reputable companies that will sell you mobility aids.Get help from friends and family to look on the internet, or to take you out to the high street shops. And please look at the 'Trusted Trader' - Buy With Confidence' schemes run by local trading standards departments."
Tonight Sharpe is safely behind bars. But for his victims, the pain goes on.