East Anglia: Schools ‘conned out of thousands of pounds’, court told

BUSINESSES, charities and schools in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex were conned out of hundreds of thousands of pounds in a high pressure telecoms scam, it has been alleged.

Smooth talking sales reps from Business Telecom allegedly systematically lied to customers as they tied them into long running contracts to secure lucrative commissions Ipswich Crown Court was told.

After cold calling potential customers, members of staff allegedly fraudulently claimed they were representing British Telecom (BT) and that Business Telecom was the business arm of British Telecom.

Customers were also allegedly told they could cancel deals after one year but found themselves committed to unwanted and expensive systems for seven years, said David Wilson, prosecuting.

Before the court are Business Telecom boss Christopher Boughton-Fox, 48, of Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew near Norwich and sales manager Jonathan Parish, 42, of The Hills, Reedham. They have both denied conspiracy to defraud businesses and individuals to a value of more than �100,000 over a period dating between 2003 and 2008.

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Among the alleged victims are BMS Imaging of Ipswich, Elmers Hardware, Kesgrave, Rattlesden Primary School, Combs Ford Primary School and Pot Kiln Primary School in Great Cornard.

The court heard that Boughton-Fox built Business Telecom up from a one-man-band based at his home in Norwich into a successful company which at its peak turned over �4.5 million in one year from its offices in King Street, Great Yarmouth.

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He said Boughton-Fox paid himself a salary of �600,000 while Parish earned �400,000 a year.

The alleged fraud came to light when a large number of disgruntled customers made complaints to a finance company involved in the deals.

The trial, which is expected to last up to ten weeks continues.

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