Leeds fraudster jailed for 'call a psychic' phone scam

Yorkshire Evening Post, UK/September 4, 2012

A fraudster has been jailed for his part in a phone scam which saw him paid thousands of pounds commission for calls made on premium rate numbers to five psychics who turned out to be completely bogus.

Paul James Jones not only pocketed the commission money from his crimes but left phone companies more than £30,000 out of pocket after failing to pay the bills on the phone accounts he used to make the calls requesting "readings" from the psychics.

Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday he was caught after inquiries were made into the unpaid landline accounts in various names at his home in Leeds and it was discovered he had run up thousands of pounds making calls himself to the five psychics.

The company behind the prime rate numbers would pay a legitimate commission for each contact made to an individual psychic and they had not realised until the inquiry began that money for the five was going to the same accounts and that they were bogus names. The commission was traced to bank accounts used by Jones.

David Dixon, prosecuting, said as a result more than £37,000 in commission was paid into accounts accessed by Jones over the months concerned while he had left two phone companies with unpaid bills totalling £32,000 in the process.

Initially he had arranged four landlines using false names with Phone Co-op at his home, running up £5,000 in calls in the first two months. He subsequently arranged 12 modem phone accounts with TalkTalk from his address in Leeds and another in Blackpool.

Jones, 31, of Compton Place, Harehills, Leeds was jailed for 28 months after he admitted three charges of fraud.

Jailing him, Judge Neil Clark said it was an unusual crime but it was not a victimless one since it could hit the companies concerned financially which could end in job losses or price increases.

Simon Alexander said in mitigation for Jones that he had build up a large amount of debt on credit cards and saw it as a way out of his problems.

He had not thought of the scheme himself but had learned of it from criminals and others were clearly involved with him which meant Jones had not received the full proceeds.

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