Conman found guilty of offering people fake jobs and pocketing money for security checks

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A conman has been jailed for four years for offering fake counselling jobs to people and pocketing the money he said was needed for security checks.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that John Sothern, 48, also known as John Parks, advertised for trainee child counsellors for a company called Options 4 Families in the winter of 2013.

Sothern, of Townsend Street in Birkenhead, advertised the vacancies online and gave the address of the company as 36 Hamilton Square in Birkenhead. He provided a contact number, which turned out to be his own mobile phone number.

He held interviews at Birkenhead job centre on 13 December 2013 and the interviewees were told that they would have to pay for criminal records security checks before they could take up the posts. The cost would be £65.

Everyone interviewed was offered a job and later received an email, offering a start date and giving details of where the charge for the security check should be paid to.

The account details were later found to be John Sothern’s own Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) account. No security checks were ever carried out and no jobs were offered to any of the applicants.

Sothern, then operating as John Parks, carried out interviews for trainee child counsellors at an office in the Corn Exchange Building in Liverpool on 18 December 2013.

He carried out more interviews at a pub after Christmas and planned two days of interviews in Manchester but left after the first day when a police officer arrived.

The owners of the Cotton Exchange Building in Liverpool said many people arrived in January to start jobs with Options 4 Families. The people discovered that no rooms had been rented by the 'company' and no jobs ever materialised.

The applicants had all been asked to pay for security checks to be carried out before they started. No checks were ever carried out.

Sothern had also offered fake work to counsellors for an entity called Burnley and Pendle Children in Need which he claimed was a charity. Again, applicants were told they would have to pay for security checks before they started. The applicants paid up but no checks were made and no work materialised.

Sothern was later arrested by Merseyside Police for a number of fraud offences. Subsequent police enquiries revealed that Sothern had also been involved in selling advertising space to companies for magazines that did not exist.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court found Sothern guilty of 32 counts of fraud and he was sentenced to four years' imprisonment the following day, Friday April 27.

Keith Drummond for the CPS said: “John Sothern is a conman who moved on from one fraud to another to make money.

“He lied and cheated honest people out of their cash and played on their hopes and aspirations. He did not care what distress and disruption he caused them.

“Several people gave up their jobs to take up what they thought were new jobs with Sothern’s ‘companies’. They were left out of work and out of pocket.

“This was despicable behaviour. Thankfully, John Sothern has now been brought to justice.”

Notes to editors

  • Keith Drummond is a District Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service

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