“Phantom” security boss who failed to pay staff guilty of 22 counts of fraud

A security boss who ran seven companies under four different identities has been found guilty of defrauding security operatives who worked for him. John Gaines, 72, of Leamington Spa, was found guilty of 22 charges of fraud at Warwick Crown Court on Monday 30 September.

Gaines employed Security Industry Authority (SIA) licensed security officers at a number of locations, including construction sites belonging to Heathrow Airport and Tesco. In many cases, Gaines either failed to pay them in full or didn’t pay them at all.

Gaines was also found guilty of claiming to be “SIA approved”, despite not being a member of the SIA Approved Contractor Scheme.  Sentencing has been deferred to 14 November pending the production of a pre-sentencing report. Gaines has been remanded into custody in the meantime.

Nathan Salmon of the SIA’s criminal investigations team said: “I’m grateful to the Jury for returning guilty verdicts on all 22 counts in this case. In part, private security regulation was introduced to address “cowboy” operators, and I can think of no better word to describe Gaines’ actions. Through various aliases and phantom businesses, Gaines set out to employ security operatives, withholding their pay while profiting from his contracts. He employed new staff to replace those who left, continuing his fraudulent behaviour many times over. He sought to conceal his identity, hid behind wild excuses and was threatening towards some employees who were merely seeking payment for the work they did for him.”

Salmon added: “The SIA recognised the harm Gaines was causing to regulated individuals within our industry and I’m grateful to the 21 employee victims who bravely came forward to secure this conviction.”

Complaints to Action Fraud

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. Those contracts had all been secured by one individual, namely John Wear Gaines, using various pseudonyms and different company names.

In conjunction with Warwickshire Police, the SIA arrested Gaines in October 2017 and seized material linking him not only to the businesses in question, but also to several alternative identities. This material included hundreds of business cards and flyers at Gaines’ house in the names of Geoff Caines, Robert Fox and David Ward. The “David Ward” cards contained the claim to be “SIA approved”.

Most of the businesses Gaines ran were sole trading entities, run virtually from his home. Only one, namely Crown/Accord Nationwide Security, was registered at Companies House. The company director was listed as “Jeff Cains”, another alias of John Gaines.

Gaines 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 whom he defrauded.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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