A crooked beauty salon owner was today starting a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for conning suppliers out of stock worth thousands of pounds – as one of her victims labelled her a ‘complete and utter liar’.
Tina Patel even lied about being pregnant to her landlord to avoid being evicted after racking up huge rent arrears.
At Wolverhampton Crown Court, 37-year-old Patel, from Walsall, was jailed after admitting five counts of fraud by false representation.
In 2011 Patel was jailed for 18 months after conning more than £1,000 from Walmsley Furnishings in Wednesbury where she worked.
The court heard how Patel, who owned Creative Salons in Park Place, Walsall, tricked wholesalers by sending emails purporting to be from bank officials confirming transfer payments.
On one occasion she forged a banker’s draft – whitening out the original payee’s details and inserting her own – before emailing a scan of the cheque to a Derbyshire-based firm to convince them to despatch her shipment.
And she repeatedly wrote cheques from closed bank accounts to cover monthly payments on a rented property in Boulevard Walk, Birchills, amassing arrears of £7,500 before eventually being evicted.
Patel initially claimed the bounced cheques were innocent mistakes - that she was unaware there was sufficient funds to cover the orders – and denied sending emails appearing to authorise her BACS payments.
But detectives were able to prove she knew the accounts had elapsed and traced the doctored emails in which she ‘stole’ headers and footers from official bank messages to her home computer. Patel was arrested on August 1 last year.
Investigating officer Det Cons Launa Rowley from the economic crime unit, said: “She left suppliers with bills totalling around £5,000 and her landlady with £7,500 in outstanding rent
“But this case shows that deception like this − taking products knowing full well you haven’t paid for them − can end with a prison sentence.”
Patel, formerly of Waterfront Way in Walsall, placed a £283 order with a Derbyshire supplier in May 2012 under the trading name Nail & Beauty Lounge. She paid on delivery using a cheque that later bounced.
In November she placed two large orders with the same firm – this time under the business name ‘Beauties’ – totalling around £2,500 to be paid via bank transfer.
She sent a doctored email,claiming to be from a bank official, suggesting that the transfer had been authorised but payment was swiftly debited from the company’s account when her cheque failed to clear.
Patel used the same tactics in November to con a Glasgow-based company out of products valued at £3,789, whilst a Leicester beauty wholesaler also lost £909 to Patel following an order placed in March 2012.
In March last year she moved into a rented property in Boulevard Walk owned by Nicky Aulton. Miss Aulton, who was trying to rent her property out, met Patel at Bounce hair salon in Walsall.
Patel initially paid a deposit of £500 and the first month rent of £650 but she paid nothing to Miss Aulton after that. Patel gave Miss Aulton cheques that bounced and told lies that her ex-boyfriend had got her bank account frozen. She ended up owning Miss Aulton £7,500.
Miss Aulton’s pensioner mother Carol, 69, helped her daughter chase payments from Patel. Today she welcomed the sentence. Mrs Aulton said: “Tina Patel is a complete and utter fraudster, and compulsive liar.
“We only realised what she was really like when someone mentioned she’d been in the Express & Star. We looked online and found the story from when she was convicted in 2011. After that we contacted the police.”
To make matters worse Patel lied to the police about being harassed by Mrs Aulton and the former sales worker was arrested on two separate occasions. No further action was taken.
Det Cons Rowley added: “During her dispute Patel claimed to be pregnant in a bid to garner sympathy and avoid being evicted. She also posted a photo of her ‘son’ on the beauty salon’s Facebook page.”
Judge Nicholas Webb told Patel: “I regret to say you are incorrigibly dishonest. YYou have showed a total lack of remorse.”
Mr Schofield, defending, said there had been a ‘slowing’ of Patel’s offending in the last two years.