A SQUAD of York-based consumer watchdogs has brought to justice a Dubai-based businessman who ran an international company that duped hundreds of British victims.

Staff at Mohammed Khalid Jamil’s Indian centre cold-called strangers in the UK claiming to be from Microsoft, and told them their computers had problems, York Crown Court heard.

In reality the Indian-based callers had no knowledge of the computers involved nor any link to the American computer giant. But their actions persuaded customers to hand over money.

Colin Rumford, of York trading standards, said: “There were victims all over the country. Of these, a lot were elderly people.”

City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council together run the national e-crime trading standards squad, which investigates IT crime across the country and which brought the prosecution.

The conviction is believed to be the first of its kind in England.

Jamil, 34, now resident in Dubai, but with an address in St Catherine’s Avenue, Luton, Beds, pleaded guilty to unfair trading by allowing his staff to make false claims regarding computer support services. He has a history of computer scams.

He will be sentenced on March 28 at York and was released on bail while a probation officer prepares a pre-sentence report.

Prosecuting, Deborah Sherwin said Luton trading standards officers had warned Jamil in the past when they had investigated another business run by him which had given rise to similar complaints.

In the latest scam, trading standards officers had received about 400 complaints and more than 200 had gone on to make formal complaints.

For Jamil, Tim Clark said staff at the centre had made a “large number of calls” which had not generated complaints.

“He admits failure to control the call centre and not having adequate supervision,” said the barrister.

“These matters have now been resolved. There is training, he is visiting the call centre more frequently.”

Some victims have already been compensated and the prosecution is asking for £5,655 in total for the rest.

It also wants its £13,929 prosecution costs paid.