The Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) fraud investigation team has successfully prosecuted a West Midlands’ con-woman who used fake certificates to obtain work.
Karen Sharpe, a 51-year-old company director from Staffordshire, was arrested by CITB’s fraud team in November last year.
She was accused of buying 13 fake Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards in a local pub and using them to secure a cleaning contract on a construction site in Stafford.
CSCS cards, which prove that individuals have the training and qualifications required to carry out their job in a construction environment, cost £30 each, whilst the separate CITB Health, Safety and Environment test, which needs to be passed in order to apply for a CSCS card, costs £19.50.
The fakes were uncovered by the employer during a routine induction process, who dismissed the 12 cleaning staff immediately and informed CITB’s Fraud Team.
Sharpe was charged with fraud by false representation and sentenced at Cannock Magistrate’s Court to 14 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months. She was ordered to undertake 180 hours of unpaid community service and pay a victim surcharge and court costs totalling £265.
In sentencing, the Magistrate, said: “This is a serious offence and you obtained the cards from a pub which is a bit sad. The offence was effected, planned and well organised by you and you played a leading role. This was a clear abuse of the position you held.”
Ian Sidney, a former police Superintendent heading up the CITB fraud unit, said: “I hope this sends a strong message to anyone who works in construction and is taking part in any illegal activities.
“This woman’s actions could have had serious consequences for anyone working on the construction site and for the staff who were working for her.
“We simply will not tolerate any fraudulent behaviour that puts lives at risk or brings the industry into disrepute.”
Lara Murray, a compliance and employment expert with Palmers, said: “Whilst there is no legal obligation to have a CSCS card before you work on site, all major contractors who are members of the UK Contractors Group (UKCG) have agreed that workers on their sites need to have a CSCS card.
“The widespread use of CSCS has been an important tool for the sector in its attempts to improve its health and safety record and drive up compliance and any act which erodes the currency of CSCS is detrimental to the industry.
“These arrests demonstrate the continued need for construction employers to regularly check all employees’ CSCS cards.”
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