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Conman duped women with help from some Phones4U staff in Cheltenham

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

Gloucester Crown Court

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CONMAN Ashley Potter duped women into mobile phone contracts they could not afford, with help from staff at the Cheltenham branch of Phones4U.

The 29-year-old, from Blackbird Avenue in Innsworth, admitted seven counts of fraud at Gloucester Crown Court.

He was helped by salesmen at the High Street store.

One, former serviceman, James Tsolakis, pleaded guilty to six charges of fraud, while store manager Gary Rossiter, and deputy manager Dean Carter, both admitted one charge each. Prosecutor Alan Fuller said Potter had persuaded women to take out two mobile contracts, saying they could be cancelled for free after three months.

He took the second handsets, along with some of the cashback offered as an incentive, but the women then found they could not cancel the contracts, and were left with £50 a month in bills.

Mr Fuller said the company recorded paying out £1,800 in cashbacks and 14 handsets worth £4,600. Defending Potter, Joe Maloney said: "He does accept that what he did was dupe people."

Defending Tsolakis, 23, of Oaksey Golf Course in Malmesbury, Nicola Berryman said he was on his probation at the store, adding by the time he became aware of the crime, he could not say no as he was "effectively involved".

Defending Carter, 28, of Swindon Close in Cheltenham, Lloyd Jenkins said he realised he had a duty to report what was happening and had failed.

The court heard store manager Rossiter, 41, of Serin Close, Kidderminster, failed to take action and benefited from reaching store targets.

Potter was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work.

Tsolakis was given a 26-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and 150 hours unpaid work. Carter and Rossiter were both given a 12-month community order and 120 hours unpaid work. None of the men now work at the store.

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