THE “mastermind” behind a scam in which businesses were tricked into believing they were buying adverts in a magazine to raise money for the emergency services, made £127,000 out of it, it has been agreed.

In November 2017, William Andrew Stringfellow was jailed for four years.

Stringfellow, 51, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud from January 2009 to August 2013 following an eight-day trial at Mold Crown Court.

Yesterday(Tuesday) an agreed order under The Proceeds of Crime Act was made by Judge Huw Rees, sitting at Mold.

His criminal benefit was set at £127,000.

A confiscation order of £29,395 was made, based on his equity in a house and the value of a car.

The judge gave him three months to pay, and said he would have to serve a 15 month sentence of imprisonment in default.

The order, by consent, was made in the defendant’s absence.

His barrister Ryan Rothwell said that Stringfellow was in custody and was unwell. But he would be able to sign the order within 28 days.

Prosecuting barrister Lee Reynolds, who appeared by a live television link from Cardiff Crown Court, confirmed that the figures in the order were agreed.

The previous trial heard that instead of numerous copies being printed and distributed as promised, only enough magazines were created to send to those who had paid for an advert.

Stringfellow, of Killins Lane, Shotton, appeared for sentence with five other defendants who had admitted their part in the con before the trial. They received suspended sentences.

Judge Niclas Parry told them: “You were all, to varying degrees, involved in a despicable fraud based on taking advantage of people’s decency and generosity.

“Tens and tens of businesses were conned into paying money believing they were publicising the work of the emergency services.

“While nearly £750,000 was raised only £5,000 or so was paid to emergency service charities.”

The judge told Stringfellow: “You were the mastermind. You left one crooked business to start up another. There was significant planning, it was carried out over a sustained period and there were a large number of victims.”

The company used in the plot - Shotton-based Emergency Support Services Ltd - would cold call businesses and say they were launching campaigns to raise awareness about issues including drug abuse, internet safety or child se. a.use for the police.

Lee Reynolds, prosecuting, said the company falsely claimed it worked on behalf of the police and other emergency services, falsely claimed it was a charitable organisation and falsely claimed a significant proportion of the money used by customers to buy adverts was donated to the emergency services.

Barrister Peter Moss, defending Stringfellow at an earlier hearing, told the judge the business had started out in an honest fashion and had not set out to defraud.

“Although it is easy to globally count this as a £700,000 fraud the individual loss to the victims was relatively modest,” he said.