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Friends Roped in to Con Mobile Phone Company

May 18, 2007

Four "talented and promising" young men who set up a mobile phone scam worth thousands of pounds were spared jail yesterday.

Alan Dobson came up with a series of illegal schemes to rid himself of crippling debts he had run up after his fledgling business failed, and roped in three of his friends.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Dobson, 24, sold contracts to identical twins Paul and Richard Hanson, and David Arthur, involving phones worth up to pounds 250.

The deals allowed customers to cancel their contracts within 14 days with no charge, and the three did so and sent their handsets back to Dobson, who worked for Link Direct.

He then sold the phones and split the cash with his friends. But as Hanson, Hanson and Arthur had all signed the contracts with their own names, police were able to trace the deceptions.

To try to combat his debts, Dobson, of Markington Drive, Ryhope, Sunderland, also conned Barclaycard into giving him a credit card in his brother's name and ran up more than pounds 600 of debt - and faked a car insurance policy in his father's name to get lower premiums. Anne Richardson, prosecuting, told the court Link Direct lost up to pounds 9,000 in the scam.

Paul Hanson, 23, profited by about pounds 500, and his twin Richard, a Northumbria University quantity surveying student, of Falstone, Fatfield, Washington, by about pounds 200.

David Angus, a computer complaints centre worker of Windermere Crescent, Hebburn, pocketed more than pounds 100 from three phones.

John Wilkinson, defending Dobson who admitted obtaining money by deception, obtaining property by deception and attempting to obtain money by deception, said his client was thought of very highly and was in good employment with a plastics company.

Defence barristers for the Hansons and Arthur, who all admitted attempting to obtain money by deception, said they were hard working and of good character.

Judge David Wood handed Dobson a suspended sentence for nine months, ordered him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and put him on probation for 12 months. The other three were ordered to pay pounds 250 each towards prosecution costs.

(c) 2007 The Journal - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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