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Apprentice contestant admits fraud

A former contestant in Lord Sugar's hit show The Apprentice has admitted fraud.

Mortgage broker Christopher Farrell faced magistrates in Plymouth, Devon, charged with four counts of fraud by false representation.

Farrell, 29, from Arrowe Park Road, Upton, Wirral, Merseyside, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address and enter the guilty pleas. On pleading guilty, he also asked for three further charges to be taken into consideration.

He was originally arrested in August, shortly before the current series of the BBC1 show - which finished on Sunday - was broadcast.

After hearing submissions from the prosecution and defence, magistrates decided their powers of sentence were insufficient and committed Farrell to Plymouth Crown Court to be sentenced on January 28. he was released on bail until then.

Magistrates were told that the mortgage adviser worked for a firm in Plymouth for nearly two years until he was sacked.

Prosecutor David Gittins told the court: "Christopher Farrell started working as a mortgage and insurance adviser with the company, Mortgages for Plymouth, in November 2007 until he was told 'You're fired' in August 2009. After that he took part in the BBC programme The Apprentice until he was fired from that in November."

Mr Gittins explained that Farrell, who earned a salary of £1,600 a month, would earn commission if he made sales of more than £5,000 a month.

Desperate to earn more money to support his wife and young family, Farrell started inflating the incomes of clients to ensure their mortgage applications were successful - thereby hitting his monthly sales target. Farrell would either alter P60 forms or payslips to show his clients in a more favourable light to a mortgage lender or create fake documents, magistrates were told.

"The clients had no knowledge of what he did," Mr Gittins said.

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