A man from Staffordshire who conned almost £2 million from customers by promising them they could become debt free was today starting a four-year jail term – while his wife narrowly avoided prison.
Basil Rankine, aged 46, and wife Amanda, 36, set up Credit Card Killer and claimed they could help people by buying up their debts, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
Mr Richard Barraclough QC, prosecuting, said the Rugeley couple amassed at least £1.8 million from customers.
Credit Card Killer, the trading name of Momentum Network Limited, claimed it could buy people’s debts from them for £1. There was an admin fee of between £250 and £450 and people were expected to pay 10 per cent of their debt up front.
The couple, of Somerset Avenue, claimed they could find loopholes in credit agreements and customers then thought they were no longer liable for the debt.
But this was illegal without the permission of the lender who would sometimes chase borrowers.
There were complaints and an investigation was led by the England Illegal Money Lending Team.
Basil was convicted of 10 counts of fraud and his wife of nine. He was also convicted of four counts of unfair commercial practice and his wife of three. The charges related to a period between January 2009 and July 2010.
Basil, representing himself, said the company had followed correct procedures in accounting. Defending Amanda, Mr Philip Bown said she had been “subordinate” to her husband.
Judge David Tomlinson said some witnesses had broken down crying while giving evidence, reliving the “distress” and “misery”.
Basil was handed a four-year jail term while his wife was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and told to carry out 200 hours unpaid work.