A FRAUDSTER from Middleton and his accomplice are to spend a significant spell in prison after a business was fleeced for almost £450,000.

Paul Young, of Bamford Avenue, used his role at a solicitors firm to take around £437,500 over the course of three years and transferred £184,850 of it to Liam Henry, of no fixed address.

The solicitors firm, which was based in Manchester, often worked with an insurance firm to deal with claims arising from road traffic collisions.

Young, 38, arranged for multiple claims to go into one of his own accounts, rather than the accounts of the claimants.

In 2016, he was disciplined by bosses after a claim of around £5,000 went into the incorrect account, but he avoided the sack when he claimed it was an error caused by mental health issues.

It was three years later, when a colleague took over some of Young's work, that the scale of the fraud was exposed.

An internal investigation discovered he had arranged for multiple claims to go into one of his own accounts, one of which was the same used for his wages.

The total of around £437,500 was used on a range of things including a gambling website and living expenses, as well as 75 transfers worth £184,850 to Henry. 

Henry withdrew his thousands in cash as soon as he received them.

After admitting to the offences of fraud by false representation and possessing criminal property, Young and Henry were last week sentenced to three years and three months and two years and two months in prison respectively.

Detective Constable Michelle Wilkinson, of GMP's Complex Fraud Team, said: "Young's deceitful, brazen and criminal behaviour spanned three years, and caused significant financial loss for both his employer and their clients.

"He held a position of trust within his workplace and had access to large sums of money, but instead of carrying out his duties he abused his power for his own criminal gain. 

"Even after he had been caught out the first time and pleaded his innocence, he then continued to make transfers to his own account and then share this with Henry, leaving them both to reap the rewards and splash the stolen cash.

"I am grateful we have been able to secure a significant custodial sentence for these men and I hope it sends a warning to all those who feel this type of behaviour is acceptable. 

"Just because you may think there are no victims in a crime such as this does not mean there are not serious consequences for all those involved, and GMP will do all it can to ensure those responsible face the appropriate justice."