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£15m fraud leads to company ban
10:30am Wednesday 11th December 2013 in News
AN EAST Yorkshire man has been disqualified from being a company director for his involvement in a small business directory website at the centre of a £15 million fraud.
A trading standards probe involving teams from York and North Yorkshire uncovered the scam behind EBH Web Limited, which sold companies advertising space and were told business was “guaranteed” through a self-financing, no-risk deal, but which failed to deliver.
The company was partly financed by money from bogus property deals by the fraud’s leader, 33-year-old Mohammed Ahmed, formerly of Deansgate, Manchester.
He used some of the proceeds to pay for his wedding, including a Thames boat trip and opening Tower Bridge for the procession, as well as a fleet of expensive cars and an executive box at Manchester City FC. He was jailed for six-and-a-half years for the fraud and four-and-a-half-years for an earlier mortgage fraud conviction.
Michael Shaun Duffy, 51, of Chestnut House in Main Street, Bielby, near Pocklington, was one of four other people involved in EBH’s operation banned from company directorships for three years and given conditional discharges. The investigation was carried out by officers from the National Trading Standards eCrime Centre hosted by North Yorkshire County Council and supported by trading standards officials from the Regional Scambuster Team and City of York Council, among others.
The York authority’s cabinet member for crime, Coun Linsay Cunningham-Cross, said: “This shows the level fo criminality which can sit behind get-rich-quick websites, and in this case the perpetrators exploited many struggling small businesses, raising false expectations and worsening their financial position.
“The sheer hard work and tenacity of our trading standards officers show fraudsters have nowhere to hide and we will pursue them.”
Coun Chris Metcalfe, the county council’s executive member for trading standards, said: “We are immensely proud that trading standards officers operating from the unit have demonstrated internet criminals can be successfully caught and prosecuted, no matter where they are operating from.”