Conman’s victims: ‘We’ll be over 100 before we get our money back’
- Credit: Ian Burt
Victims of an ex-policeman turned conman say they feel they are being ripped off a second time after he tried to reduce payments to them.
Ben Staff, from Thorpe St Andrew, agreed in 2018, after a series of court hearings, to return £200,000 to people he conned while working in the building trade.
That money was meant to be funded by the sale of three homes.
But a year later the 39-year-old had not paid them a penny because the homes had not been sold.
And at a hearing on Monday, Norwich Crown Court was told that Staff’s assets were now worth less than the £200,000 agreed, so a new hearing will have to be held in November.
Those he ripped off began getting small monthly payments from Staff earlier this year.
But they said those payments had been sporadic and were so small, they would have to live to over 100 to get their money back.
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Martyn Green, from Lenwade, is owed £14,500, for work he did on new houses Staff built at Hainford from 2012.
He said: “I just can’t believe this is still going on. Why is this still in court and why hasn’t he been forced to sell his assets and pay us back?
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“He took money from us once and now it feels like he is trying to rip us off again.”
Mr Green said he was getting payments of £29 a month from Staff but was not paid every month.
“At this rate I will be over 100 before I get back the money I’m owed.”
Another man, who Staff was ordered to pay £86,000 to, said he was getting £174 a month from him - meaning it will take more than 90 years to pay back.
But payments were missed in April and June, he said.
Responding to Monday’s court hearing, he said: “I feel he is trying to screw the system again.”
Staff ripped off people, including his business partner, contractors and HMRC, by using money intended for his business accounts to fund his own lavish lifestyle.
He used the cash for cars and holidays, renovated his home and paid for his wedding.
His trial heard how Staff took his victims in by using his police background to convince them he was trustworthy.
But his business practices sparked complaints and were investigated by this newspaper in 2013.
He was arrested by police the following year and jailed for four-and-a-half years in January 2017.