Government Education Grant Scam

A Ramsgate man – who masterminded a £400,000 government education grant scam to fund a lavish lifestyle – has been jailed for four years.

Greedy Timothy Springett, 41, of Whinfell Avenue, used taxpayers’ money to fund a luxury lifestyle of expensive watches, sports cars and holidays to Las Vegas.

He conned a Government-funded organisation, Learndirect to hand over more than £1.5 M to pay for education courses.

But prosecutor Edmund Burge told Canterbury Crown Court how some of that was part of a fraud which involved three others, employed as tutors.

George Cain, 27, of Bobbing Hill in Bobbing near Sittingbourne; Ryan Talling, 30, of Bridge Close in Sandwich, and Christopher Pritchard, 33, of Hillcrest Road in Kingsdown, each received 12 month sentences suspended for two years for their part in the conspiracy to defraud.

Springett had denied charges of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and two charges of cheating the public revenue but was found guilty by a jury.

The other three admitted conspiracy charges and were also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work for the community and wear electronic tags and remain at their homes between 7pm and 7am for the next five months.

Mr Burge said that not only did Springett rip off taxpayers through his carefully crafted scheme – he also failed to pay any tax on his earnings – and kept the tax of his employees – amounting to more than £350,000.

The prosecutor said Learndirect paid Springett the money to provide 2,150 educational courses to under-skilled or unemployed Kent residents.

“While living the high life, Springett spent £38,000 on a Nissan GT-R; £30,000 on watches; £26,000 on a Porsche Cayenne; £10,000 on paintings and went on a trip to Las Vegas” DC Stuart Champion
But his company Want To Learn faked details on non-existent students and then fabricated certificates to cover up the four-year fraud.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Stuart Champion from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said after the hearing: “While living the high life, Springett spent £38,000 on a Nissan GT-R; £30,000 on watches; £26,000 on a Porsche Cayenne; £10,000 on paintings and went on a trip to Las Vegas.”

The court heard how the crooked Springett created a fake company, the Norman Earnshaw Trust, with 40 fake employees who he then enrolled onto 163 of his courses.

The scam began in 2007, when he bought a Deal-based company which was already providing Learndirect courses.

He changed the name of the firm to Timothy Springett trading as Want To Learn and made himself the sole signatory of the business bank account.

He expanded the number of operating centres to four with sites at Aylesham, Whitfield, Ramsgate and Broadstairs and then recruited the other three.