The men held 70 bank and building society accounts - but only pounds 10,000 was traced. Customs officials estimated they owed pounds 250,000 in VAT. The men set up at least 30 bogus companies and claimed they were from motorway maintenance firms with cheap left- over tarmac for driveways and paths, Portsmouth Crown Court was told.
They did shoddy work then demanded huge sums - sometimes up to 10 times the estimate - in cash. Their victims included a blind pensioner, a pregnant woman, and a man whose wife had died the day before they struck. They were caught after a national inquiry led by Hampshire police.
Thomas Frankham, 29, of no fixed address, was jailed for three years and nine months; Eugene Marshall, 29, of Evesham, Hereford and Worcester, for three years and 11 months; John Kennedy, 29, and Gavin Kennedy, 25, both of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, for three years and one year respectively; and Edward James, 31, of Ollerton, Nottinghamshire, for 18 months. All had admitted VAT offences.Reuse content