Ex-PC Ben Staff ordered to pay back £200,000 to fraud victims
- Credit: Ian Burt
A former police officer turned fraudster will have to pay almost £200,000 to his victims who have been waiting for years to get their money back.
Ben Staff was jailed in January 2017 for frauds totalling £1m which he carried out across Norfolk's building trade from 2009 to 2014.
Staff used money intended for his business accounts to fund his own lavish lifestyle and conned creditors into thinking he had no money to pay them.
The 37-year-old from Lucas Court, Thorpe St Andrew, used the cash for cars and holidays, renovated his home and paid for his wedding.
But at a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday, David Wilson, for the prosecution, said all sides had reached an agreement about how much Staff would pay back.
Just under £200,000 will be confiscated, funded by the sale of three houses.
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One victim, who lost thousands of pounds to Staff, said: 'Let's hope everyone sees a little bit of it. It is about time that justice came through and some of his victims got some money back off him.'
Judge Anthony Bate said he would approve the order in principle and was just waiting some details for it to be finalised.
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Staff, a former PC, left Norfolk Constabulary in 2008, but he used his policing background to get people to trust him.
Upon his conviction in December 2016 Detective Inspector Liz Fernandes, who led the investigation, described him as 'unscrupulous'.
He was convicted of two counts of fraud, two counts of false accounting, one count of converting criminal property and one count of fraudulent trading following a trial at King's Lynn Crown Court in 2016.
In a second trial at Norwich Crown Court later that year, Staff was found guilty of fraud and converting criminal property.
The police investigation into Staff began in 2012 after a complaint was made to about his business practices.
It was passed onto the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit.
Further victims then came forward and Staff was arrested in February 2014.
He is currently serving a sentence of four years and six months in Hollesley Bay open prison.
We have been following the case of Ben Staff ever since a tip-off to this newspaper in 2013.
The tip alleged Staff's construction firms owed thousands of pounds.
Our investigation later that year, which took five months to research, confirmed the former policeman owed thousands to contractors and construction firms in Norfolk after his building projects hit problems.
Customers also complained about work done by his building firm.
After we published our article, more victims came forward to the police and Staff was arrested in 2014.
He was charged later that year and his case eventually went to trial in 2016, after an investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).
Staff was found guilty and jailed in January 2017.
And Thursday's Proceeds of Crime Act court hearing almost brings all proceedings in this long-running case to a close.