A security boss who operated under four different identities has been jailed for more than four years for defrauding vulnerable security operatives who worked for him.
John Gaines, 72, of Leamington Spa, was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court on 14 November. He had been found guilty of 22 counts of fraud at Warwick on 30 September. 21 of his fraud charges attracted a sentence of 4 years and 8 months each, to be served concurrently. He was given a year for the final charge, also to be served concurrently.
Gaines employed Security Industry Authority (SIA) licensed security guards at a number of locations, including construction sites belonging to Heathrow Airport and Tesco. In many cases he either failed to pay his staff in full, or didn’t pay them at all.
Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Potter deplored Gaines’ “systematic exploitation of vulnerable individuals for profit”, and referred to the 21 security operatives “left in hardship” by his dishonesty. Gaines recruited staff who were easy to exploit; recent arrivals from other countries, those with health problems, or those living in homeless hostels.
If staff raised concerns about their treatment, Gaines threatened them with the sack and subjected them to racist abuse. He refused to engage with employment tribunals, or frustrated proceedings by hiding behind assumed identities. The court heard that many of Gaines’ victims, amongst whom were operatives with children, were seriously affected by his failure to pay them. These consequences included losing their homes.
Gaines was also found guilty of claiming to be “SIA approved”, despite not being a member of the SIA Approved Contractor Scheme. It emerged during the trial that Gaines had previous convictions for dishonesty, including impersonating a police officer.
Nathan Salmon, of the SIA’s Criminal investigation team, said:
“The judge in this case referred to Gaines’ exploiting the vulnerable for ‘sordid financial reasons’. Gaines chose to prey on the powerless, using a web of assumed identities to protect his dishonest dealings. Many of his victims had come to the UK in search of a better life, but had their labour and dignity stolen from them by a threatening fraudster. We would like again to thank the 21 individuals who came forward to testify against their tormentor. The SIA is now seeking access to Gaines’ assets under Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings. Although success cannot be guaranteed, our intention would be to recover some of the money that Gaines swindled from his victims, with the aim of returning to them what is rightfully theirs.”
The case was brought to the SIA’s attention following a series of complaints to the police and Action Fraud. These complaints related to companies that were under suspicion of failing to pay security operatives. Analysis had shown that several of the companies in question shared e-mail addresses and phone numbers. This information was passed to the SIA by the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN).
The SIA conducted a lengthy and complex UK-wide investigation into a number of contracts running from 2012 to early 2016. They had all been secured by one individual, John Wear Gaines, using various pseudonyms and different company names.
The SIA, in conjunction with Warwickshire Police, arrested Gaines in October 2017 and seized material linking him not only to the businesses in question, but to several alternative identities.
Gaines had told the court that the workers whom he failed to pay were either “asleep on the job” or had failed to provide proper documentation. However, the court heard from a variety of witnesses who claimed that he refused to supply written contacts, ignored requests for payment, and left threatening phone messages for those who he defrauded.