Matthew Ravey, 28, thought he had come up with a plan to get rich quick and referred to himself as a criminal mastermind
A debt-ridden council worker who claimed to be a ‘criminal mastermind’ diverted £80,000 of public money to himself and his friends, so they could write off loans and pay for cocaine and sex – before being rumbled because he had used his work computer and email in the scheme.
Rochdale council officer Matthew Ravey, 28, told friends he had come up with a ‘fool-proof’ plan to ‘get rich while avoiding his debtors’.
He emailed one friend: ‘I have used it on three loans I had in the past. Two have been written off completely. BOOM xx..’
However, he was caught because he had used his work email and computer and has now been jailed for a year and six months after admitting three counts of fraud and one count of theft.
Minshull Street Crown Court heard Ravey created false insolvency documents for himself and friends while working at Rochdale council, in an attempt to avoid reimbursing payday loan companies he was in debt to.
His career at the town hall began in October 2013, when he was hired as a council business rates officer, earning just under £18,000.
In June 2016, an employee looked into a business rates refund Ravey had processed by chance.
Ravey had given £4,208 in relief funds to a company named Kinetic Security Products Ltd, despite records showing the company had dissolved in 2014.
He created a new bank account and creditor address associated with the business which actually belonged to co-conspirators Richard Rigby, 29, and Andrew Foster, 31.
When confronted by a fellow employee, Ravey initially claimed he was correcting an existing error.
When it was pointed out there was no error, he began denying he had ever accessed the account.
An internal investigation was launched and it was found that Ravey had altered banking and addresses of other businesses to make 26 separate fraudulent transfers between January 2015 and June 2016.
Minshull Street Crown Court heard Ravey created false insolvency documents for himself and friends while working at Rochdale council
Among the transfers were two payments totalling £3,274 to Jason Hurst, 48, who later admitted in police interview to spending the money on cocaine and sex workers.
There were seven transfers to Michael Frames, 28, of just under £15,000.
Frames was an NHS employee at the time and arranged the fraud using his NHS email account. He has since left the NHS.
In total, £73,232 was transferred to his friends including Daniel Merriman, 27, and Rigby.
Ravey’s work computer was found to contain several fraudulent insolvency documents and emails were recovered incriminating him.
The investigation revealed that he used those documents to obtain arrangements from loan companies to avoid paying off what he had borrowed, either having the loans written off or repayments on them significantly reduced.
Following the hearing, Detective Constable Sarah Langley of GMP’s Fraud Disruption Team, said: ‘It’s clear from correspondence that Ravey imagined himself as some sort of criminal mastermind who’d concocted a fool-proof plan to get rich while avoiding his debtors.
‘But frankly, the decision to use his employer’s email address to orchestrate it was one of many frankly bizarre factors in his ill-considered scam.
‘After being confronted, he even tried to deny he’d done anything wrong – despite the paper chain from his computer clearly implicated him and his co-conspirators in his desperately flawed con job.
‘Let’s not forget this was public money. Everyone – not least taxpayers in Rochdale – should be disgusted by his actions.’
Frames, of Milbury Drive, Littleborough, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and was sentenced to complete 100 hours unpaid work.
Foster, of, Smithybridge Road, Littleborough, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and was sentenced to complete 54 hours unpaid work.
Rigby, of Windmill Court, Rochdale, was sentenced at a previous hearing at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court on 4 February 2019 to complete 64 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to one count of money laundering.
Hurst, of Chorley Old Road, Bolton, was sentenced at a previous hearing at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court on 21 November 2018 to complete 100 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to one count of theft.
Merriman, of Hurstead Road, Milnrow, was sentenced at a previous hearing at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court on 8 January 2019 to complete 80 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to one count of money laundering.