PAIR TARGETED THE DESPERATE IN SCAM.
A CONMAN who netted nearly PS2 million by telling desperate people he could make their debts "disappear" has been jailed for four years.
Basil Rankine, 46, of Somerset Avenue, Rugeley, was locked up after conning customers of his Credit Card Killer business between March 2009 and the summer of 2010.
Wife Amanda, 36, was handed a 12-month suspended sentence for fraud and unfair commercial practice and was ordered to carry out 200 hours community service.
The pair had plush offices in Birmingham city centre to run their illegal debt purchase scheme.
But they left customers in even more financial trouble by taking their cash and leaving them with their existing debts.
One client handed over PS12,000 to the "blatant" scam to sell off their debts.
Judge David Tomlinson said the pair had taken advantage of those in desperate need.
He said: "The real harm and loss in cases like this is not financial but human. This case is about real people.
"Damage was done to the pride and self respect of many decent people."
It was estimated the Rankines, who have two children, took cash from around 2,500 people.
But, representing himself in court, the crooked businessman still refused to accept he had conned customers - claiming there was a misunderstanding of the law under which the company was operating.
Phillip Baum, representing Amanda Rankine, claimed she found herself in a Catch-22 between going along with her husband's fraudulent business, or facing serious marital difficulties.
He said: "It was Mr Rankine who put himself forward as someone who had read the Consumer Credit Act, she had not even read it.
"This is a family tragedy that will go beyond the sentences and have long-term consequences for the future of this family."
The couple were both banned from holding directorships of companies for seven years.
Jacqui Kennedy, from the Birmingham City Council illegal money lending team, welcomed the sentences and warned consumers not to buy into debt purchase schemes.
"What they said they could do they could not, it is not in law for them to do that. It was a scam."
Jailed: Conman Basil Rankine was handed a four-year jail term. Wife Amanda was given a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to carry out community service.