Birmingham bus driver jailed for fake ticket scam on buses, trains and trains - but flees to Tanzania

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Bus driver Steven Taylor pocketed cash after selling £161,000 worth of fake tickets for buses, trains and trams in Birmingham and across the West Midlands

A crooked Birmingham bus driver who used a printing press at home to produce £161,000 worth of fake bus, train and Metro tickets across the West Midlands in a sophisticated scam has been sentenced to jail.

Steven Taylor, 55, printed thousands of counterfeit monthly travel passes which were then sold to passengers at discounted prices so he could pocket the fares. A court heard he used a printing press to produce the high-quality bogus tickets before employing a network of sellers to move them on.

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The monthly passes for the West Midlands travel network were sold at £40 for adult passes and £20 for children, when they should have cost £100 and £50. The fraudster’s con was eventually rumbled three-and-half years later after he defrauded travel companies out of over £160,000.

Taylor, of Wolverhampton, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply articles for the use in fraud and possession of articles for the use in fraud. But he was sentenced in his absence to four-and-a-half years in prison after Birmingham Crown Court was told he had fled to Tanzania. A warrant had previously been issued for Taylor’s arrest after he flew to Africa ahead of his court case. His whereabouts is still unknown.

Judge Melbourne Inman KC said "The nature of the offence was that you obtained the ability, no doubt through the relevant software, to provide counterfeit tickets for the use on trains, buses and the Metro in the West Midlands. The tickets that were counterfeited were monthly tickets that would normally cost £100 each for adults and £50 each for children. It is quite clear this was a sophisticated operation and went on for a considerable amount of time, about three-and-a half years, without being detected."

Bus driver Steven TaylorBus driver Steven Taylor
Bus driver Steven Taylor | British Transport Police / SWNS

The court was told the fraud took place between January 2014 and August 2017 and others had been duped into believing the tickets were genuine. Daniel Oscroft, prosecuting, said: "The defendant was the prime mover in a sophisticated fraud he organised."

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He said Taylor also had blank identity passes and a number of people who worked for him including Sandra Smith who provided the tickets to others for onward sale. The court heard previously that Smith, 44, sold the adult tickets for £40 and the child ones for £20 and that she would keep £10 and give the rest to Taylor.

When her home was searched police found various false tickets as well as records of customer details. Smith also acted as a treasurer and accountant and she had received between £10 and £12,000. She had pleaded guilty to the same charges as Taylor and was sentenced in December last year to an 18-month community order.

The court heard the bogus tickets were of a high quality and that those involved in the conspiracy had profited to the tune of around £61,000. The judge said it had also put members of public, who would have been a unaware they were in possession of a fake ticket, at risk.