A BUSINESSMAN has urged customers to only buy branded products from authorised retailers as the man behind a £150,000 fake sporting goods fraud was jailed.

Ian James Bailey, 65, used three usernames on eBay as he sold thousands of pirated rolls of fishing line over the internet to customers who believed they were the genuine article.

But company director Chris Hartley, of Guide Flyfishing Ltd of Sherburn in Elmet, realised something was wrong, alerted North Yorkshire trading standards and Bailey was arrested.

The county council’s investigation revealed Bailey had a turnover in excess of £156,000 through his eBay accounts ‘Telewatcher’, ‘the line man’ and ‘Hardyclassics’ and when his house was searched, officers seized more than 5,000 pirated lines.

Mr Hartley said: “The lines we purchased from Ian Bailey through eBay are greatly inferior in virtually all respects, with none of Rio’s (a type of fishing line) technology.

“It is difficult to quantify the number of fake Rio lines sold but there will be disgruntled members of the public who believe that Rio is of poor quality.

“In conclusion, we need to make people aware that branded products should only be purchased from authorised approved retailers. The old motto still stands true - ‘If it looks too good to be true, it likely is’.”

Sentencing Bailey and Canadian resident Richard Tramer, 66, on Black Friday, Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said they had caused the fishing line manufacturers to lose business as well as cheating customers. He described Bailey as an example of how the internet enabled criminals to hide behind usernames and website anonymity to carry out crimes on a scale they would never manage if dealing with people face to face.

Despite having a warning shot across his bow, he had continued his “brazen” crimes in the belief he could not be detected. He had done so “for a prolonged period with a number of user names, motivated by greed".

Bailey was jailed for eight months.

York Crown Court heard he had no previous convictions and had worked as a golf professional until he had to retire through injury. The judge said Tramer had “corrupted” some employees at Northern Sport Fishing (UK) Ltd as he received thousands of Canadian dollars during his part of the scam.

He suspended Tramer’s seven-month prison sentence for 18 months and fined the company £1,000.

Tramer and the company, both of Buntsford Park, Bromsgrove, West Midlands, each pleaded guilty to 10 unfair trading offences. Bailey, of Alyn Road, Mickle Trafford, Chester, admitted 12 unfair trading offences and 10 trademark offences.