Furniture boss jailed after pleading guilty to fraudulent trading

Fri, 03 Jul 2020

A Hull man who persistently sold below standard pine furniture with large discounts for modest prices but then failed to deliver the goods or pay refunds has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Ian Lewis McCormack, 29, of Egypt Street, Hull, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraudulent trading under the company name of Robert Dylan Pine Ltd, two counts of participating in a fraudulent business operated by a sole trader namely Ian McCormack Furniture and Pay on the Day Furniture, and one count of converting criminal property with the offences taking place between September 2016 and March 2019.

Steven Watson, 29 of Tenterdon Close, Bransholme, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraudulent trading under the company name of Robert Dylan Pine and one count of dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit with the offences taking place between September 2016 and December 2017.

Hull Crown Court heard how cousins McCormack and Watson were directors of Robert Dylan Pine Ltd, a company which had a registered address of Ferry Road, Wawne and by the end of 2016 had become known to Humberside Police following a number of customer complaints.

McCormack gave assurances to the police that the money would be refunded and no further action was taken but complaints continued to be received by the police, East Riding of Yorkshire Council's trading standards team as well as Action Fraud.

The company continued to advertise, take deposits and payments and in some circumstances failed to supply the furniture that had been paid for, or make refunds.

In April 2017, officers from the council's trading standards team formally wrote to Robert Dylan Pine Ltd requesting they cease and desist from any further actions which could result in offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Despite this, they continued to trade in the same manner and more complaints were received with customers claiming that large deposits were being requested, delivery dates were never honoured and promises of refunds were broken and, if products were delivered, they were of a very poor standard.

Some furniture examined by officers was found to be roughly constructed and dangerous, unfit for purpose and not consistent with British Safety standards.

McCormack and Watson were both interviewed by trading standards officers at the end of 2017 and said due to negative publicity and Facebook posts, Robert Dylan Pine Ltd and the Rural Furniture Company had ceased trading earlier that summer.

They both claimed they had outgrown the company, they didn't have enough business knowledge or business bank accounts and they had continued accepting deposits after the cease and desist request as they needed the money to pay refunds and buy materials for the backlog of orders.

By then McCormack was operating as a sole trader under the business names of Ian McCormack Furniture and Pay on the Day Furniture Both businesses were run in the same way as the previous companies with trading standards receiving more complaints about the lack of refunds and sub-standard products.

The court was also told that the fraudulent trading ran from January 2017 to March 2019 and the value of that fraudulent trading period was £221,232.83.

McCormack was given a 30 month prison sentence, is now subject to a five-year criminal behaviour order and banned from becoming a company director for five years.

Watson was given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and disqualified from becoming a company director for four years.

The sentencing of McCormack and Watson brings to an end a four-year investigation carried out by East Riding of Yorkshire Council's Trading Standards team.

In order to help bring McCormack and Watson to justice, funding was received from National Trading Standards as officers received over 200 complaints from across the UK and Europe and had thousands of pieces of evidence.

Colin Briggs, trading standards manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: "I'm delighted the judge has handed McCormack a prison sentence as being behind bars is the only way the public can be protected from him.

"Despite pleading guilty to these offences in February, he has continued to operate in the same manner with more people becoming victims over the last few months.

"In our experience, and the experience of the victims his is a compulsive liar and he knew exactly what he was doing - this was systematic fraud on a national and international level.

"The company manufactured and delivered furniture as it suited them rather than to meet their contractual obligations and the quality of furniture, when assessed, was found to be unfit for purpose.

"The company was run chaotically and large amounts of money were consistently withdrawn in cash - in effect this company was run fraudulently."

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