Titchfield conman who ran web scam told to repay £300,000

CONVICTED Peter Swatton outside Portsmouth Crown Court
CONVICTED Peter Swatton outside Portsmouth Crown Court
A police car parked outside Catherine House in Stanhope Road, Portsmouth, earlier tonight. Picture: Byron Melton

UPDATE: Man, 20, arrested after ‘suspicious object’ is found at student halls in Portsmouth city centre

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A FRAUDSTER who sold bogus number plates has been told to pay back more than £300,000.

Peter Swatton was jailed for five years last April for the internet scam.

The 55-year-old raked in £70,000 by running a website Cherished Marks, which promised customers sought-after private number plates.

But after pocketing payments of between £2,000 and £7,000 from 24 unsuspecting buyers, he never came up with the goods – ignoring complaints or blaming the DVLA and the plates’ previous owners.

Now £312,398.73 has been confiscated from Swatton through the Proceeds of Crime Act – £53,294 of which will go to repaying his victims.

The figure is higher than the amount he made from the website as it is up to the defendant to prove their posessions were not paid for by ill-gotten gains

The cash will be covered by the repossession of Swatton’s property in Fontley Lane, Titchfield, which has already been sold.

Detective Sergeant Lee Macarthur said: ‘Hampshire Constabulary is committed to using the Proceeds of Crime Act to strip criminals of the assets they have gained through their criminal behaviour.

‘If you have benefited from committing crime, you should not expect to enjoy your ill-gotten gains while law-abiding members of the community may not be able to afford such luxuries.’

Swatton was found guilty of four counts of obtaining money by deception and 20 of fraud.

At his sentencing at Portsmouth Crown Court, Judge Graham White described him as ‘one of the UK’s leading conmen’.

Swatton used the cash to fund his lifestyle, which included driving a Lamborghini and owning a numberplate, IY1, that was alone worth a staggering £240,000.

Judge White held the hearing at Harrow Crown Court where he ordered a total confiscation.

Half of the money will go into government coffers, with Hampshire police, the CPS and the court and tribunal service also receiving a share. The 17 victims identified in the confiscation order were paid varying amounts which either went towards full refunds or their legal costs.

Some victims were refunded directly by Swatton before the hearing.

Other victims who have since come forward are seeking compensation through ongoing bankruptcy proceedings against the father-of-three.