Prison for pair found guilty of online qualification scam
Two Norfolk residents have today been handed prison sentences for the parts they played in a £225,000 online qualification scam.
Scott Wolfe, 38 and Katie Hope, 34 of Old Yarmouth Road, Broome in Norfolk, pleaded guilty on 25 February 2019 to multiple offences including forgery, fraudulent trading and money laundering at Norwich Crown Court.
At the hearing in Norwich today, Scott Wolfe was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment and has been barred from acting as a company director for 10 years. Katie Hope has been sentenced to 2 years in prison and cannot act as a company director for 5 years.
Speaking about the case Judge Bate praised the 'very efficient and clear way' Norfolk County Council Trading Standards prosecuted the 'unusual' case.
Norfolk County Council Trading Standards pursued the successful prosecution after carrying out a two-year investigation into the pair who set up fake online nutrition courses.
Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships said, “I hope that today’s result will send a clear message that fraudulent trading will not be tolerated in Norfolk.
“Our thorough investigation and successful prosecution is testament to the hard work of the Norfolk County Council Trading Standards team and all the many witnesses who provided evidence which was so compelling that Mr Wolfe and Ms Hope had no option but to plead guilty to all the offences.
“With so many people losing money as a result of this fraud it is very welcome that the court has today clearly acknowledged the seriousness of these offences by handing down these custodial sentences.”
Around 900 people from as far afield as Canada, South Africa, Singapore and New Zealand were duped into handing over a total of £225,000 for qualifications that never existed. On average people lost around £200.
Money from the fraudulent trading was passed through the company bank account and transferred into Wolfe and Hope’s personal bank accounts and overseas to an account held in Mauritius.
The fraudsters set up a business providing courses in a subject where they had no knowledge or expertise and invented the 'British Nutrition Council Limited' to dupe people into believing the courses offered genuine qualifications.
Scott Wolfe, who has used previous names including Lord Scott Austin, Scott Cameron and Scott McKay, and Katie Hope, whose previous surnames include Gibbs and Layton, pleaded guilty to offences relating to two businesses; International Distance College Ltd trading as The Nutrition School and British Nutrition Council Ltd, which operated from August 2015 to May 2016.
In addition to the many victims, witnesses for the prosecution included the other course providers who had had their courses plagiarised by the pair, the Advertising Standards Authority, industry and scientific professionals from The Association for Nutrition and The Nutrition Society as well as representatives from The Department of Health and Public Health England.
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More by this authorChris Morris