A married couple from Newcastle-upon-Tyne have been sentenced for multiple fraud offences.
Kevin Cairns, 45, and Gillian Cairns, 46, pretended to run kitchen and furniture companies and duped victims from Cheshire and America into paying large sums of money for work that was never carried out.
The couple admitted seven counts of fraud between them, committed between 2014 and 2017.
They were sentenced for the offences, which saw four victims scammed out of a total of more than £30,000, at Chester Crown Court on Monday 4 March.
Kevin Cairns, who pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation, was jailed for three years and four months.
His wife Gillian Cairns, who admitted three counts of the offence, was given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for two years.
The court heard that the couple set up websites for companies that were figments of their imagination, including Handcrafted in England, Mason Kitchens, Bautou and Mason and Lennegan and Marantz.
The websites showed images of other companies’ kitchen refits and furniture and were merely a front to obtain sales for products that they did not have and work that would never be done.
The couple demanded deposits before jobs were measured up or products were delivered, followed by requests for payment in full.
They admitted scamming £10,000 from a man in Tabley, Cheshire; £6,538 from a woman in New York, America; and £2,600 from a woman in Crewe, Cheshire.
Kevin Cairns also pleaded guilty to conning a Chester football coach he knew to be dying from a brain tumour into buying a new £12,500 kitchen.
The court heard Kevin Cairns even took the man to chemotherapy and radiotherapy appointments after hearing that he had received a substantial critical illness insurance payment.
The man died in March 2015, three months after his new kitchen was scheduled to be fitted. No work was ever carried out at his Chester home.
The offences were committed whilst the couple were living in Burwardsley in Cheshire, Whitchurch in Shropshire, Wrexham in north Wales and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Sergeant Andrea Ellis, who led Cheshire Constabulary’s investigation into the couple’s fraudulent activities, said: “Kevin and Gillian Cairns set up and carried out an elaborate scam to boost their bank balance at their victims’ expense.
“The couple used victims’ money as a means to live their day-to-day lives.
“They stooped low enough to take money from a friend for work they had no intention of ever carrying out, and Kevin Cairns even scammed a dying man out of £12,500, just months before the victim died.
“I am delighted that the couple have now been punished for their despicable actions, and although the sentencing will not bring the victims their money back I hope that the punishments imposed by the court will give them some closure.
“This has been a long and complex investigation involving a number of police forces and I would like to thank all of my colleagues for the support they have provided.
“I hope that this case reassures people that the police treats fraud extremely seriously and we will take robust action against offenders involved in this type of crime.
“I also hope that it acts as a warning to other potential fraudsters.”
The court was told that Gillian Cairns, who gave an address of Lesbury Street, Lemington, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, had a lesser, more administrative role in the offences than her husband.
On top of her suspended prison sentence, she was ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work and adhere to a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
The couple were also banned from being directors of a company – Kevin Cairns for 10 years and Gillian Cairns for four years.
They will face a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at a future date to address their assets and ill-gotten gains.
If you are an ongoing victim of fraud contact Cheshire Constabulary on 101 or give the details via https://cheshire.police.uk/contact/general-enquiries.
To report historic fraud offences call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.