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KONMAN IN PRISON FOR BANK SKAM; Spelling error exposed car theives.

Byline: By GARY ANDERSON

A FOREIGN conman fleeced motorists using fake Scottish bank drafts - even though he spelled Scotland wrong.

Lithuanian crook Marius Rimdeika put a "K" instead of a "C" on bogus Royal Bank of Scotland bank drafts but still managed to rip-off unsuspecting car owners in England.

Yesterday, at Preston Magistrates Court the conman was jailed for 20-months for his part in the "wide ranging fraud" which cost drivers thousands of pounds.

Prosecutor Michael Hayton told the court how private advertisers with cars for sale in specialist magazines or websites were contacted by the fraudsters.

After agreements to sell, banker's drafts and, in one case a cheque, were produced.

But the banker's drafts were forged and the cheque later bounced.

Mr Hayton added that, on closer inspection, the drafts were not the best of the forgeries. He explained: "What should have read the 'Royal Bank of Scotland' had the country's name spelt with a K."

The fraud ended when a major investigation was launched and media warnings about the gang were put out.

Following a tip-off, police were alerted by a suspicious seller in Fulwood, Lancashire, and detectives were waiting when Rimdeika turned up with a forged banker's draft. Cars worth more than pounds 30,000 had been taken in the scam. All but one have been traced and returned to their owners.

Rimdeika, of Nottingham, admitted nine offences of using a false instrument with intent, obtaining by deception and theft.

Keith Thomas, defending, said Rimdeika was not responsible for the planning of the scam.

He claimed his part was just to collect the vehicles and he did what he was told by a man he owed money.

Jailing Rimdeika, Recorder Teresa Pepper told the crook he had played a part in what was a serious fraud involving a high degree of sophistication and only a prison sentence could be justified.

After the case, one of Rimdeika's victims, who asked not to be named, warned people to be aware of the risks of banker's drafts. She said: "I was always of the opinion that it was as good as cash.

"That is a fallacy because it is not a replacement for cash. Only accept one after you have had its validity confirmed by the issuing bank."

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KON ARTIST: Rimdeika and one of his banker's drafts
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 17, 2005
Words:389
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