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John Richmond sentenced for scamming St Albans businesses
A deceptive cold caller who conned businesses in St Albans out of hundreds of pounds has been sentenced.
John Richmond, trading as Westminster Environmental Protection, convinced firms that they had to undertake mandatory tests of their drinking water. He did not discuss his prices, ask for someone in authority or clarify his commercial intentions.
St Albans Crown Court heard that some firms immediately thought he was from a local authority and assumed there would be no costs involved.
However at the end of his visits in March 2011 he would ask for his paperwork to be signed and the signatories were unknowingly agreeing to a minimum 12-month contract and two tests.
Mr Richmond then sent the test results with a bill for £808.80.
In sentencing, Judge Bright QC dismissed Richmond’s argument that the way he ran his business was little more than sharp practice. He said that the offence was pre-meditated, well-planned and designed to deceive, and that his "sales pitch" was a fraud in any other language.
At interview, Mr Richmond said he would never lie about where he was from and if asked would say that it wasn't compulsory to have the tests done and explain the costs.
The 69-year-old from Barnet, pleaded guilty to eight regulatory offences under the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.
He was sentenced to 28 days in prison for each offence, to run concurrently, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to pay £2,000 towards prosecution costs.
Mr Richmond also targetted businesses in Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City.