Con-men guilty of massive phone scam

Fraudsters have pleaded guilty to conning schools and businesses in Herts out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Daniel Cullen of Hatfield and Daniel Buttle of Bishop’s Stortford pleaded guilty to the scam which duped employers into changing their phone lines to digital.

The pair employed sales reps at their Hatfield-based companies, BC Telecom Ltd and Business Telecommunications Systems Ltd (trading as BTS Digital), to call companies in Herts and surrounding counties, implying they were calling on behalf of British Telecom.

During 2008 and 2009, employers were told a government grant was available to pay for the switchover, and that the new telephone systems would be at no cost to their businesses.

None of this was true and all businesses ended up being tied into lengthy and expensive hire contracts for the telephone systems.

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Stevenage residential home, Martins House, was one of those conned into signing up.

David Wall, chairman of trustees for Chauncy Housing Association, which manages the home, said the pair should be heavily punished when they are sentenced.

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“It cost us over �20,000. It was absolutely blatant fraud and they lied from the moment they came in the door to the moment they went out again. I would like to see them banned from trading for life.”

Following a prosecution by Hertfordshire Trading Standards, Buttle, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulent trading at St Albans Crown Court last week. Cullen pleading guilty to the same charges at a hearing in January. The pair will be sentenced at St Albans in April.

Keith Emsall, executive member for community safety at Herts County Council, said: “This disgraceful scam has cost schools and businesses thousands of pounds. They were deliberately misled through a cynical ploy which took advantage of people’s trust in a well-known company. Fraud of this kind will not be tolerated.”

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