Work scam man slammed by jobseeker

Jobseeker Graham Lyth.
Jobseeker Graham Lyth.

A JOBHUNTER who is desperate for work has slammed the actions of a training company director who scammed jobseekers out of more than £70,000.

James Akin ran the company Kalmindon which promised people taking up the course, skills that would lead to a £30,000 salary.

But the work and hands-on training never materialised and training took longer than envisaged.

Akin, of St Bega’s Glade, Hartlepool, who had advertised the courses with Jobcentre Plus throughout 2009 and 2010, appeared before Teesside magistrates after trading standards officers received more than 20 complaints from people who had shelled out £2,875 each for the training.

The 58-year-old and his wife, who lost their £2.5m Swainston Hall home in plush Wynyard following its repossession, are now on benefits – receiving £105-a-week Jobseeker’s Allowance and £62 in housing benefit for their privately-rented four-bedroom detached property.

He was sentenced to a community order with 200-hours unpaid work and made to pay two of the victims £500 compensation each, at just £5 a week.

Today, Graham Lyth, a 50-year-old Hartlepool jobseeker, who is one of the faces of the Hartlepool Mail’s Work in Progress Campaign that highlights the plight of the unemployed, said Akin’s sentence should have been harsher.

Graham, who sent off 250 unsuccessful job applications and CVs since losing his job four years ago, is one of 4,633 Hartlepool Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants.

He says people like Akin are doing nothing to help their quest for work.

He said: “He is making it worse for us. He should have been given a prison sentence. It’s disgraceful.”

Graham, a former printer from the Chester Road area, added: “I usually feel dubious when you’ve got to put your own money into courses.

“I think ‘something’s not right’ – you have got to be careful.”

Akin’s Wynyard-based firm offered training in internet search engine optimisation and clients were told afterwards they would earn money by writing internet articles for customers.

But those who signed up found no such jobs, said prosecutor Michele Stowe.

Akin was interviewed by Stockton Borough Council’s trading standards officials on suspicion of committing offences under unfair trading legislation.

Both Akin and his company admitted two counts of misleading actions over guaranteed employment, face-to-face training, a guaranteed client base and that income would exceed £30,000.

Akin and Kalmindon also admitted misleading omissions in an advertisement placed with Jobcentre Plus.

In mitigation, Adam McGlison said: “He has gone from being a proud and successful businessman of many years to being in a position where he has nothing at all.”

Akin accepted the Jobcentre advert had misled his victims, saying he felt this was due to misplaced optimism for the service’s commercial success.

He said a combination of the recession, foreign competition and his business partner’s illness prevented the company fulfilling its promises.

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing and community safety, said afterwards: “This case has affected people across the country, many of whom could ill-afford neither the fees nor the lack of work at the end of their course.”