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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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Carlisle bank staff foil con man who faked ID

A man using a false identity to cash cheques at a Carlisle bank was foiled when vigilant staff became suspicious and called the police, the city’s Crown Court heard.

Peter Martin made five visits to the Clydesdale bank in English Street in the space of just six days in January – using a doctored driving licence to “prove” he was Thomas Ritchie, the owner of a Glasgow recycling firm.

The 62-year-old con man had managed to get possession of a cheque book which had gone missing from Mr Ritchie’s company, Clyde Recycling, and used it to write cheques payable to himself in his false identity.

He successfully cashed four cheques – getting away with a total of £16,480 – and even set up a £1,000-a-week standing order to take money from the company account.

But when he returned yet again, asking to cash a single cheque for £16,800, the cashier became suspicious and spoke to the manager.

Then, while Martin was made to wait on the pretext that it would take a long time to count out so much money, another member of staff phoned the real Mr Ritchie in Glasgow, who confirmed that the man in the bank was an imposter.

Martin realised he had been rumbled, and left the bank, saying he had to move his car. But he was arrested ten days later as he left the Sheriff’s Court in Glasgow, where he had just been fined for a similar offence of fraud.

Yesterday Martin, who lives in Firtree Vale, Moortown, Leeds, pleaded guilty to six charges of fraud and two of using false documents at the Carlisle bank.

He also admitted trying to obtain £1,000 from a bank in Workington – also by using Mr Ritchie’s identity.

The court heard that in his younger days Martin had been known as a “professional burglar”, regularly earning prison sentences of four or five years.

His defence advocate Mark Shepherd said he had managed to turn his life around about 20 years ago, and had been doing well in the construction industry until two accidents left him unable to earn a living.

In “financial desperation” after falling £18,000 in debt he had agreed to earn money by helping “an African gang” with their bank fraud, he said.

“He was reckless getting involved with these people and he accepts that he must now pay the consequences,” Mr Shepherd said.

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