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Prison for credit card conman

A DISABLED conman who fraudulently bought £14,000 of computer equipment with other people's money has been jailed for a year.

A DISABLED conman who fraudulently bought £14,000 of computer equipment with other people's money has been jailed for a year.

Neil Wayne Cooke, 31, gave a computer firm the credit card numbers of unsuspecting people, thus charging the cost of the goods to them.

He made 30 successful attempts to get the equipment, totalling £13,970, from Combined Precision Components.

Chester Crown Court heard he made a further 21 unsuccessful attempts to order £14,850 worth of stock.

The court was told that Cooke, of Lime Grove in Elton, was a seasoned con artist with a string of convictions for fraud, burglary, theft, assault and dangerous driving.

Cooke, who walked into the dock on two crutches, admitted obtaining four amounts of computer components and electrical goods from Combined Precision Components, based in Preston, by deception.

Between November 13 and December 18 last year, he ordered the goods from Kelly Robinson, Mohammed Patel, Martin Duff and Claire Haydock by falsely claiming he was the owner of various credit cards, when he was not.

Cooke also admitted a fifth charge of attemping to obtain property by deception from Udeh Pareck on January 9 this year.

And he asked the court to take 46 similar offences into consideration.

Half of these are deceptions and half are attempted deceptions. Prosecutor Peter Moss said: 'This was a clever little fraud.

'He was able to second guess the expiry dates and credit numbers of credit cards which had been sent out to bank customers, as he had been sent one himself. But he could not guess or discover the name of the owners.

'These are five specimen counts. Cooke was obtaining computer components by using false credit card details in telephone transactions. In total there were 51 transactions.

'At the time he was registered disabled and relying on benefits, but was also buying and selling computer equipment over the Internet.'

Mr Moss said the cost of the goods was then sent to the original card owner.

'That's how this came to light.

'In December Graham Bate, a publican from Warrington, complained about an £879 charge on his credit card statement.

'He pursued this with the Preston firm and they investigated. Police were then called and they searched Cooke's house.

'They found a file of receipts for a number of goods just received from the company,' he added.

Judge Elgan Edwards, Honorary Recorder of Chester, called Cooke a 'deliberate and clever fraudster'.

* AT a hearing last month, Neil Cooke caused courtroom chaos after first admitting the computer con, then changing his mind and denying it.

When he appeared for sentence, after pre-sentence, psychiatric and medical reports had all been drawn up, he decided to change his plea.

Cooke also asked for new legal representation. The case was adjourned to Monday for a review hearing.

But on Monday, defence barrister Nick Mason said Cooke accepted his position and the 'guilty' pleas stood as they were.

'Retracting his pleas were just a cry for help. In 1993 Cooke was in a series of road accidents which left him permanently disabled,' added Mr Mason.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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