West Yorkshire online fraudster jailed
After a lengthy, complex investigation by West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, Andrew James was yesterday sentenced at Leeds Crown Court to 2 years 3 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to fraudulent trading.
In 2011 West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service received in excess of 120 complaints regarding non delivery of fires and fire surrounds from Home Firesides Ltd trading via www.firesgalore.co.uk and www.homefiresides.co.uk. Mr James was the sole Managing Director to the company.
The websites advertised fires and fire surrounds at extremely low prices and offered free delivery on every order. There was no evidence to suggest that any orders were fulfilled or that there was any intention to fulfill these orders.
Over three hundred orders from consumers based throughout the UK were placed and over £135,000 was taken by the company in the short trading period of August - October 2011. The majority of customers contacted the company they never received a response or their orders. Many of the consumers were able to claim refunds via their banks and credit card providers however the financial loss remained with the financial constitution Worldpay (UK) Ltd, who provided the secure payment facility on the website.
As well as his prison sentence, Mr James has been disqualified as a director for 10 years and a compensation order of over £121,000 was granted to Worldpay (UK) Ltd.
David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said “This has been a long and complex investigation with multiple victims. We are pleased that the court have handed down such a severe sentence in recognition of the defendant’s dishonesty in his dealings with his customers.”
Councillor Bill Urry, of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee said “This case is a good example of how the work of Trading Standards is changing due to technological advances. This shows how online fraud originating in West Yorkshire can affect consumers on a national basis.”
DATE: 22 October 2014