Directors jailed for online scam

Company directors of a firm selling electrical goods have been jailed for a total of nearly seven and a half years following a fraud investigation by the North Yorkshire and York based National Trading Standards eCrime team.

The scam was uncovered after customers
complained that goods ordered online from the company’s Electrohut website were
never delivered or that goods received were different to the order. Over the
period of a few months the site had taken £330,000 in orders from almost 1000

Saleem Arif, aged 54, of Westfield Road,
Edgbaston, Birmingham, was sentenced on 9 May to four years six months at Leeds
Crown Court for money laundering and fraudulent trading*. Kewal Banga, aged 39,
from Waddell Grove Land, Stourbridge, was sentenced to two years 11 months for
pleading guilty to money laundering*.

Arif and Banga were each disqualified from being
company directors for 8 years. A third defendant was previously found not
guilty of both counts.

Arif, a director of Electroponents, ran and
advertised a website,,
offering low cost deals on branded TVs, cameras, tablets, smartphones and
computer hardware.

When consumers complained and asked for their
money back because goods they had ordered never arrived or were the wrong item,
they were fobbed off with excuses by company representatives.

Some consumers were told the website’s merchant
services provider could no longer service the volume of business or were told
to ask the merchant provider for a refund. Other consumers were told the
company’s phone lines were temporarily unavailable and would be fixed shortly.
The defendants also used misleading addresses in London and, in March 2015,
they changed the company’s name to Discount Gizmos.

In sentencing the pair, Judge Thomas Bayliss QC,

“Both of you were responsible for laundering the
proceeds and denying creditors access to their money. You both took leading
roles. It was a sophisticated fraud over a five month period generating 852 charge

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of the National Trading
Standards, said

“The National Trading Standards eCrime Team
launched a successful investigation into Arif and Banga. It’s a reminder that
we do take action against criminals and I hope the sentences deter others from
engaging in this type of activity.”

Mike Andrews, lead co-ordinator for the National
Trading Standards eCrime Team, said

“In many cases Arif had no intention of
supplying goods to consumers who paid in good faith. On the few occasions he
did supply items, they were often not what the customer had ordered in the
first place.”

Councillor Andrew Lee from North Yorkshire
County Council said

“We should all be careful when shopping online
and take more care when buying electrical goods, but cases like this show that our
eCrimes team will not hesitate to take action and that these scams do not
always go the criminals’ way.”