Council conman jailed after £1m contracts fraud

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A council conman, who swindled almost £1m from Lancashire taxpayers by faking building works, has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years by a judge at Preston Crown Court.

Stephen Crewdson (46), a contracts manager with the county council, was convicted of fraud and money laundering after charging the authority for bogus construction work over a five-year period.

The conviction followed an investigation by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs officers.

Sandra Smith, assistant director of the HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “As a council employee, Crewdson was in a privileged position approving supplier’s invoices.

“He abused this position of trust and was well aware that he was breaking the law. He made a deliberate attack on council funds at the expense of United Kingdom taxpayers.”

Crewdson, who lived in the Ribble Valley, arranged for building suppliers to bill the council for work that never existed.

Money paid to the builders was then laundered through various bank accounts back to Crewdson.

When HMRC investigators began to check suspicious transactions, Crewdson created his own fake business and registered it for VAT via an accountant to disguise his crimes.

Jailing him His Honour Judge Knowles QC said: “You have been convicted on most overwhelming evidence and your brazen lies.

“You were in breach of trust at Lancashire County Council and of the public of Lancashire.

“The people of this county, taxpayers, are your victims and all to satisfy your greed.”

A spokesperson for the county council said: “We are pleased with the verdict.”

Crewdson will now face legal action to recover the stolen money.