Suspended sentence for Halifax fraudster who got friend to invest in bogus business scheme

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A 23-year-old man who tried to help his family’s struggling furniture business by getting a friend to invest £17,000 in a bogus scheme has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Courtney Richmond claimed he was going to add another £10,000 to the money provided by Simon Barritt and another friend, who was a professional footballer, would act as the middleman to invest the cash.

But Bradford Crown Court heard that the scheme was bogus and Richmond kept up the pretence by sending the complainant fictitious emails and texts purportedly from the footballer.

Prosecutor Paul Nicholson said the complainant began to get suspicious, but Richmond reassured him that everything was going well.

When Mr Barritt realised there was something wrong, contact was made with the footballer’s club and the player’s girlfriend said they knew nothing about the investment.

Although Richmond continued with the pretence he eventually admitted to a mutual friend that he had made the whole thing up.

Richmond, formerly of Broadley Close, Pellon, pleaded guilty to the fraud charge and the court heard that the case dated back two years to a five-month period in 2013.

Lawyer Rachim Singh, for Richmond, explained that attempts had been made to reimburse Mr Barritt and he stressed that the money had not been used by his client for holidays or anything like that.

Mr Singh said Richmond had hoped that the business debts could be paid off and the money would be repaid to Mr Barritt.

“This was for a genuine purpose for the family business but it didn’t work and he will pay for that,’ said Mr Singh.

He said his client still planned to repay the money and could offer £200 a month at this time.

Judge David Hatton told Richmond, who now lives on Merseyside, that he deliberately deceived and misled a man who had been a good friend and supporter to his father.

“The offence is aggravated by the fact that you prolonged your deceit by continuing, from time to time, to send false messages concerning his supposed investment,” said the judge.

“I am very firmly of the view that you appreciate the unpleasant and mean nature of this and that you are in fact full of remorse and shame, and if not, you should be.

“I am satisfied that the money you took from this man was not spent by you on high-living or even directly upon yourself.”

Judge Hatton told Richmond that his 27-week prison sentence would be suspended for two years and he would have to do 200 hours unpaid work for the community.

Richmond will also be supervised by the probation service for a year and he must start repaying £2,500 to his victim at the rate of £200 a month.