Four salesmen who faked figures on lease agreements to earn higher commission have been given suspended prison sentences.
The men, who worked for DWS Environmental Ltd, in Bury St Edmunds, altered contracts with customers, including small businesses and charities, worth around £80,000.
They were charged following an investigation by Suffolk Trading Standards after a string of customers complained about their contract periods being increased without their knowledge.
Two of the salesmen, Alan Wilson, 50, of Burton on Trent, and David Leather, 50, of Manchester, had pleaded not guilty to fraud by false representation but were found guilty following a trial at Ipswich Crown Court in June.
The other two salesmen, Peter Oakes, 58, of Devon, and Gavin Heyhoe, 45, of Nottingham, had pleaded guilty to the same offence.
The court heard that customers were ‘dishonestly induced’ into long-term leases for water coolers, with payment of large cancellation fees their only way out, and misled into believing they were signing up for a limited period of between six and 12 months when their financial commitment was actually going to be up to six years.
It also heard the salesmen had altered sales agreements after meetings with customers to benefit from higher commission payments.
All four men were sentenced alongside each other at the same court on Friday.
Judge John Devaux warned them that any breach of their sentences could result in immediate custody.
Oakes was sentenced to 17 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with 200 hours unpaid work and £6,000 costs.
Heyhoe received 12 months suspended for 18 months, with 140 hours unpaid work and £1,200 costs.
Wilson got six months suspended for 15 months, with 90 hours unpaid work and £1,200 costs and Leather got three months suspended for 12 months, with 60 hours unpaid work and £6,000 costs.
Speaking after the hearing, Cllr Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “This case is a continual reminder that scammers don’t just target consumers, they also con businesses.
“It is very easy to think that you won’t be fooled but scammers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to take your money.”
He added: “I’m pleased that justice has been served on this occasion thanks to the joint investigation between our officers at Trading Standards, Suffolk Police and the Tri-Region Scambusters Team.”
He added: “You must protect your business by making sure you and your staff are aware of the ways scammers operate, as new scams appear every day. It is important to make sure that for any contract signed, you thoroughly check the information in the contract and you have a copy of the document to refer to.”