A CROOKED businessman who conned financial services companies out of more than £31,000 has been locked up for a year.
Akbar Ullah carried out an 18-month advance fee confidence fraud, selling leads which did not exist, and then put the proceeds in the bank accounts of his wife and sister-in- law. Ullah struck nine times, several of them after he was arrested and bailed, and had convinced one debt company to hand over £11,250, Burnley Crown Court heard.
The hearing was told Ullah was said to be trying to set up a legitimate referral agency in a business that was booming in the current economic climate. He used a variety of English names and the name of another company, making out it had had taken over others and had a large workforce andsophisticated call centre. Its address was given as Dover Street, Nelson, but that turned out to be the terrace house where the defendant was living.
Ullah, now described as a successful businessman, had a record for dishonesty and had previously been given a community order for obtaining a money transfer by deception and making a false representation.
The defendant (33), of Leeds Road, Nelson, admitted nine counts of fraud by false representation, against Debt Advisory Line, Money Debt and Credit, Thornton Shepherd Associates, Johnson Geddes, Kensington Knight, Hamilton Associates, Debt Free Direct, Pentagon and Debt Matters, between March, 2009 and September, 2010. He will face a proceeds of crime hearing later.
Miss Jennifer Blewitt (prosecuting) said the amounts Ullah got from the companies started at £570 and one company handed over £11,250 for the promise of 150 leads. The total he netted was £31,027. He found using English names rather than his own got him more business.
When the companies did not receive the leads, they tried to contact the defendant by telephone or email and were unsuccessful.
Miss Blewitt said Ullah was arrested in May, 2010 at Dover Street and bailed pending further inquiries. He was then arrested in September, was interviewed three times and claimed he had supplied the leads.
Mr Paul Lawton, for Ullah, said the tragedy for him was that he was not without ability in business. He had been utterly reckless.
The barrister continued: “He is an extremely chastened and desperate man, but he accepts, through me, he has only himself to blame.”
Mr Lawton said the defendant had been seeking to start a legitimate business. He went on: “It’s clear he tried to run before he could walk in this business. It was a growth area and he was anxious to become established as soon as possible.”
The buyers, it seemed, made minimal checks as they were keen to secure lucrative business. Mr Lawton said: “It shows people were prepared to effectively hand the money over without any guarantee the leads existed.”
The barrister said Ullah had used English names rather than his Muslim name because of perceived prejudice. He now had a successful company and would say the police had visited and were satisfied it was genuine.
Mr Lawton added: “He is now at peril of losing everything he has established since that time. He is not proud in any way of what has gone before.”
Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson told the defendant: “It was dishonest and you have to accept your previous convictions show you have been prepared to act, on more than one occasion, in a dishonest fashion.”