Fraudster cash goes toward apprenticeships return

A council in Bedfordshire will use the ill-gotten gains of a junk mail fraudster to bring back its apprenticeship programme.

Bedford Borough Council has announced it will partner with Bedford College to use £450,000 of the money confiscated from Hendrick Meniru (pictured) to employ 15 apprentices.

The 49-year-old was found guilty by Luton Crown Court jurors in April last year of two charges of unfair trading, two charges of fraud and one of failing to comply with money laundering regulations after an investigation by the local authority. He was sentenced to three years behind bars.

The probe was launched after the council uncovered details of his involvement in a junk mail scam, which involved conning members of the public, usually the elderly or vulnerable, out of money through a number of bogus claims and promises.

And at a proceeds of crime hearing this month, Meniru was ordered to pay back £3m along with £200,000 in costs — £762,500 of which was received by the council.

The council has announced that £450,000 will fund the apprenticeships, with the remaining £312,500 going back into the council’s budget for fighting fraud.

Dave Hodgson, Bedford council’s directly-elected mayor, said: “We want to ensure that something positive can come out of this appalling, callous crime.

“This funding will be put to good use and shared between two vital purposes — providing training and employment opportunities, and the prevention of, and enforcement against, such crimes in the future.”

A council spokesperson said it had not employed apprentices for “several years,” adding: “The council has put forward plans to allocate £450,000 to fund 15 apprenticeship places annually over the next three years.

“The places will be working within the council which will partner with Bedford College as its training provider.

“These apprenticeship places are available to all but will be especially promoted to groups which might particularly benefit from the scheme such as ex-servicemen and looked after children.”

Ian Pryce, principal of Bedford College, said: “We are happy to be the council’s first choice for the training of its apprentices.

“We support young people into employment in a wide range of ways, including via apprenticeships for a wide range of organisations.”