William Eichler 07 February 2019

Rochdale council worker jailed for £80,000 fraud

Rochdale council worker jailed for £80,000 fraud image

A council worker has been jailed for defrauding Rochdale Borough Council of £80,000 - money that was then spent on prostitutes and cocaine.

Matthew Ravey yesterday pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and one count of theft and was sentenced to one year and six months.

Mr Ravey joined the council in 2013 as a business rates officer, earning just under £18,000.

In 2016, a colleague noticed that Mr Ravey had applied a period of empty property relief totalling £4,208 on a company named Kinetic Security Products Ltd, despite records showing the company dissolved in 2014.

He created a new bank account and creditor address associated with the business that belonged to co-conspirators Richard Rigby and Andrew Foster respectively.

An internal investigation was launched and it was found that Mr Ravey had altered banking and addresses of other businesses to make 26 separate fraudulent transfers between January 2015 and June 2016.

Among the transfers were two payments totalling £3,274 to Jason Hurst, who later admitted in to the police that he had spent the money on cocaine and prostitutes.

There were seven transfers to Michael Frames, who worked for the NHS, of just under £15,000.

In total, Mr Ravey transferred £73,232 to his friends including Daniel Merriman and Richard Rigby.

Mr Ravey also created false insolvency documents for himself and friends, in an attempt to avoid reimbursing payday loan companies he was in debt to.

‘It’s clear from correspondence that Ravey imagined himself as some sort of criminal mastermind who’d concocted a fool-proof plan to get rich while avoiding his debtors,’ said detective constable Sarah Langley of Greater Manchester Police’s Fraud Disruption Team.

‘But frankly, the decision to use his employer’s email address to orchestrate it was one of many frankly bizarre factors in his ill-considered scam.

‘After being confronted, he even tried to deny he’d done anything wrong – despite the paper chain from his computer clearly implicated him and his co-conspirators in his desperately flawed con job.

‘Let’s not forget this was public money. Everyone – not least taxpayers in Rochdale – should be disgusted by his actions.’

A council spokesperson said: 'This was a serious breach of trust from a former council employee who has let down the council and his colleagues. We take any allegation of fraud seriously and this matter was immediately reported to the police after our robust procedures uncovered evidence of criminal behaviour.

'Through a zero tolerance approach, we will always take action to ensure that justice is done and this was underlined by this successful prosecution.'

Time for a council tax precept to fund CCTV image

Time for a council tax precept to fund CCTV

The crisis in funding for CCTV systems is not being addressed by the government or the police and is leading to the curtailment of this vital service in local authorities across the country. How can we ensure that communities that want this service continue to receive it, asks Tom Reeve.
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