Pair who ran £200k training con from Rugby and Lutterworth offices jailed - The Rugby Observer

Pair who ran £200k training con from Rugby and Lutterworth offices jailed

Rugby Editorial 27th Oct, 2016   0

TWO company directors who conned the government of almost £200,000 to fund their “lavish lifestyles” have been sentenced to jail.
Frederick Wilson and Philip Hyams, both 55, were handed sentences of 21 months in prison after pleading guilty of major fraud offences between 2011 and 2013 while working for their company, Focus Four Ltd – with offices based in Rugby and Lutterworth.
The pair falsely claimed their organisation was offering educational training courses to hundreds of students while receiving funding from the training course providers ‘learndirect’.
The two men created close to 300 fake student profiles, using bogus names and dates of birth, to make it seem as if they were training genuine customers – and continued to receive funding.
The two directors also forced their staff, who worked as tutors, to take the online courses and exams themselves – and threatened they would lose their jobs if they didn’t complete them.
After learndirect reported suspicious activity and removed all funding from Focus Four Limited, a joint investigation by Leicestershire Police and the Insolvency Services was launched.
Detective Constable Simon Newcombe from Leicestershire Police’s Economic Crime Unit said: “The investigation revealed details of bogus work-place learners were inputted on to the learndirect system claiming that the learners had enrolled and completed learndirect programmes, which was not the case.
“These men were only in it for financial gain and to fund their lavish lifestyles, they showed total disregard for their staff or the fact that they were falsely claiming money for services they never provided.
“After a thorough investigation we are pleased that they have pleaded guilty to the offences and now face almost two years in prison.
“We hope that this case sends a clear message to those who believe that they can obtain money fraudulently from public funds: you will be traced and prosecuted.”
A spokesperson from learndirect said: “As a business with zero tolerance to fraud we believe the right decision has been made to convict the two directors. We hope this acts as a deterrent to others.”

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