A LONDONER was “forced” to drive to Barnstaple and con shops out of cash with false cheques, a court has heard.
Roshan Vyse, 20, from Drayton Green, London, claimed in court through defence solicitor Zara Svensson that he was driven to town from the capital by two men he did not know and made to get involved in the fraudulent scheme.
On September 14, 2013, he used his passport and a fake utility bill he said was given to him by the men, which had been doctored to include his name on it, to cash a cheque for £490 at Cash Brokers in Boutport Street.
He did the same 15 minutes later at The Money Centre in Bear Street and later that day at Cash Converters in Exeter.
He was given £448 at The Money Centre, £350 at Cash Brokers in Boutport Street and £458.60 at Cash Converters.
Lyndsey Baker, for the prosecution, said: “He admitted it in interview. CCTV was referred to and he claimed it was under duress.”
Ms Svensson said when Vyse was younger he “got involved with a group of people his parents wouldn’t exactly have wanted him to”.
She said: “He managed to detach himself from them and they were not happy about it.
“He had his windows broken and everything. Some people in that group have passed his details on to other people he has never met before.”
These people, said Ms Svensson, had contacted Vyse with “veiled threats”, wanting him to help with a scheme.
“They ordered him to meet them. He avoided contact but the threats became less veiled”, said the defence solicitor.
“He was very scared and so he decided to meet them.
“He was shaking like a leaf when he first went into Cash Converters.
“They said all he needed to do was help with the scheme and they would be driving to the South West, they told him the back story to use.
“He said the people in the car were careful not to give any details about themselves.
“They promised him he would suffer no further problems from them or the others if he did it.”
The court heard that once Vyse handed them the first lot of money, the people were nicer to him.
Once they had finished they drove him to Bristol Temple Meads and gave him £30 for a train ticket.
Vyse claimed CCTV would show the pair who had forced him under duress to commit the fraud, and their fingerprints would be on the utility bill.
Ms Svensson said she did not know if the police had looked into these claims.
Magistrates sentenced Vyse to do 200 hours of unpaid work and pay each shop £220 compensation, a total of £660.