A MAN has been sentenced to three years in prison for a three-year long fraud that saw him take hundreds of thousands of pounds from charities, public bodies and businesses by fraudulently selling of advertising space in a non-existent student magazine.
Andre Nathaniel-Rock, aged 44 and of Mynors Crescent, Hollywood, near Redditch, was sentenced on Monday, February 4, by His Honour Judge Hooper at Worcester Crown Court.
In 2001, Nathaniel-Rock set up the publishing company Templar International to produce the Student Lifestyle Guide, which contained features and advertisements of interest to students.
The Guide was intended to be an annual publication supplied free to UK students with revenue being produced by the sale of advertising space. It was printed between 2002-2005, but only several hundred were produced each year and it then ceased publication.
However, between 2006 and 2009 a number of bodies were contacted by Nathaniel-Rock, who used false names, claiming that the Guide continued to be published with circulation figures of four million and that advertising statistics were showing fantastic results.
Between 2006 and 2009, £253,371.22 was taken out of Templar International's business account by Nathaniel-Rock to fund his personal lifestyle, it was later discovered later.
On November 13 2008, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs presented a bankruptcy petition against Templar International and during the subsequent proceedings, the Insolvency Service agency suspected fraudulent activity because advertising space was still being sold long after publication ceased as well as Nathaniel-Rock’s extravagant advertising claims.
West Mercia Police's economic crime unit launched an investigation in August 2010 and eventually a total of 31 organisations - including charities as well as private companies and public bodies - made formal complaints against Nathaniel-Rock about the mis-selling of advertising to the value of £186,998.25.
Following a lengthy inquiry, Nathaniel-Rock pleaded guilty on January 2 to three offences of obtaining a money transfer by deception from Nivea, Birmingham Trading Standards and Buffalo Technology.
He also pleaded guilty to nine offences of fraud by false representation against Amazon, Macmillan Cancer Support, Ladbrokes PLC, TK Maxx, Mazuma Mobile, EBuyer UK Ltd, Club 18-30, 4 Wheelz Driving School and Hostelworld.com.
The loss to these organisations as a result of Nathaniel-Rock's dishonesty was £103,644.
Detective Inspector Mark Glazzard said: "Nathaniel-Rock committed a careful, prolonged and targeted fraud, but he was indiscriminate about who he conned, taking money from charities and small businesses as well as multi-nationals.
"The sentence reflects the significant losses attributed to this conman, who used false names, exaggeration and elements of fantasy to close a deal. In his attempts to impress people, he even went as far as purchasing the Scottish baronial title of the Baron Cavers in 2004, which was recently valued at £25,000.”