Canterbury finanial adviser in £300,000 fraud jailed after trying to give speeding points to disabled widow
Scott Baker has been jailed for six years
A dishonest finance adviser has been jailed for six years for "doing a Chris Huhne" – getting someone else to take his speeding points.
But unlike the disgraced MP, who persuaded his wife to take part in the scam, villain Scott Baker used a 72-year-old disabled widow... without her knowledge.
The 51-year-old, of Downs Road, Canterbury, was advising the woman on probate issues in 2008 when his BMW was caught by speed cameras on the A28 in Canterbury and on the M11 in Essex.
He used details of trusting Ann Strobel – who was suffering from Parkinson's disease – to claim she was behind the wheel of his car. But she had stopped driving a year earlier.
The devious crook's perverting of justice came to light during a £300,000 fraud investigation.
Baker – who ran Westminster Consultancy, based in Harbour Street, Whitstable – set himself up as a financial genius offering advice on investments and re-mortgaging.
But during a five–week trial at Canterbury Crown Court, which involved police sifting through 33,000 documents, the jury heard his only experience was three years selling insurance with Abbey National.
Judge Heather Norton told him his "incompetence was only matched by his arrogance".
During his five days in the witness box, Baker – who even had his own house repossessed – criticised the police for seizing his computers and preventing him from doing more investments.
Judge Norton said: "No doubt the entire courtroom breathed a sigh of relief that you did not."
Baker, who was convicted of five fraud charges and admitted two charges of perverting the course of justice, "frittered away" nearly £300,000 within two months.
Among his victims were a widow and two retired teachers who he conned into investing money with him.
The judge said Baker was "not just dishonest, but also callous", adding: "You had neither the experience or the business acumen or indeed the qualifications.
"He was living a Walter Mitty-esque existence... persuading people that he had money in the bank and charmed them into trusting him with their money..." - prosecutor Abigail Husbands
"But you were not convicted because of you incompetence and I am not sentencing you because of your stupidity. These were serious offences of dishonesty."
Prosecutor Abigail Husbands said Baker was a "Walter Mitty-esque character", who had created fake bank accounts to hide his financial dealing.
She said: "Westminster Consultancy purported to offer advice, particularly with people with debt problems.
"But in 2007 he had little money and needed money to fund his lifestyle, business expenses and to try and get an income for himself.
"He gained the trust of people, got them to re-mortgage their houses and then pay the money into bank accounts that he could access."
Ms Husbands told the court Baker "promised to invest the money to earn large amounts of money for them (investors) within a year."
The case was heard by Judge Heather Norton
She added: "But that money was spent in various ways, overheads, business expenses, which were taken out in cash.
"Two sets of vulnerable people were consequently left with large debts on their houses without any real prospect of them being able to pay those debts."
The prosecutor revealed that in 2010, following complaints made to police, officers raided Baker's flat in Tilmanstone where officers found papers, including fake bank accounts.
"The prosecution say those bank accounts were to be used in fraud – because they would serve no other useful purpose," she added.
Ms Husbands added widow Jacqueline Browne handed over £177,000 and Brian and Maria Gannon gave Baker £103,000 by Baker, who appeared "knowledgeable and plausible".
She said Ms Browne's money was placed into a bank account to which Baker had access – and virtually all of it was withdrawn within a month by the consultant.
"No investments were made and he just frittered the money away. On one occasion he took some family and colleagues to America taking £12,000 out in cash for the trip.
"He was living a Walter Mitty-esque existence telling others about his inflated ideas, persuading people that he had money in the bank and charmed them into trusting him with their money."
The officer who led the probe, DS Alec Wood was commended by the judge for his "diligent investigation".
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