Fraudster jailed for selling fake construction skills cards
A man who sold counterfeit work-based qualification cards has been jailed for more than three years.
Warwickshire City Council Trading Standards brought the prosecution against Andrew Weeks, 53, after he was found producing the fake cards at his printing company Nuneaton Print and selling them online for up to £30.99 each.
Forged documents included cards for the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) and the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS).
Other fake documentation included occupational health cards, driving licences, qualification certificates for first aid, and City & Guilds certificates.
A Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) investigating officer was able to purchase a CPCS card from Weeks without providing evidence that he was trained to operate machines such as dumper trucks and excavators.
Solicitors acting for the construction industry served a cease and desist order, which Weeks signed agreeing to stop producing the counterfeit documents. However, he changed his company’s name to Yorkshire Novelty Print and continued trading.
Warwickshire trading standards officers then launched their own investigation and raided Weeks’ business premises.
Weeks pleaded guilty to one offence under s 9 of the Fraud Act 2006 at an earlier hearing and was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court to three years and eight months imprisonment. He claimed in his defense that the “novelty item” disclaimer sent out with his products made his actions “acceptable”.
His Honour Judge Barry Berlin said that producing counterfeit licences and qualification certifications had serious ramifications for public safety and described Weeks’ actions as “fraud to foster more fraud”.
He was also sued by CSCS for copyright infringement and ordered to pay damages of £6,000.
The names of those who had purchased fake documents from Weeks are now in the hands of the certificate awarding organisations.
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, portfolio holder for community safety, said: “Mr Weeks has committed an incredibly serious offence that could mean that hundreds of people across the UK are employed in jobs and trades that they are unqualified to undertake and in some cases, particularly in construction, electrical installation and caring professions may be putting lives at risk, not to mention those who may be driving on our roads today with fake licences.”
Ian Sidney, fraud manager at CITB, added: “The use of fake cards could easily lead to accidents, injuries or even fatalities where contractors do not have the required skills, training or qualifications. Employers must remain vigilant when checking workers’ documentation and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.”
Keeley Downey is assistant editor of IOSH Magazine