Four Londoners who ran a £1 million nationwide LGV driver training scam in which people paid for tuition that was never delivered have been sent to jail for a total of almost 20 years after an Old Bailey trial.
They have also all been disqualified from being company directors for periods of between five and 12 years.
The fraudsters ran scam LGV trading brokers which variously traded as Highway LGV Ltd, LGV Specialist Ltd, Blackwater LGV Ltd, and Quickpass LGV Ltd and traded out of London’s Canary Wharf between 2009 and 2012.
The websites, which were promoted in the Sun newspaper, promised lucrative jobs driving trucks to people who purchased LGV driving licence acquisition courses through them.
Between them, the four companies generated revenue in excess of £1 million, but just £44,250 was spent buying training for their customers, in many cases with legitimate driving schools where the victims could have obtained the same training directly for far less money. Unemployed people were encouraged to take out loans to fund training that was never delivered.
The training was supposed to cover a theory test followed by practical driving tuition at independent driving schools. Trainees normally completed the theory test that allowed them to progress to on-the-road instruction, because that cost little for the fraudsters to organise.
Having paid ‘deposits’ ranging from £1,000 to £3,000, customers who booked practical training were presented with a multitude of excuses as to why their training could not take place. Examples included that the certificate confirming that the candidate had passed the theory test had not been received, customer details were lost or there were strikes at the Driving Standards Agency (DSA).
The fraud was backed by sophisticated marketing in the form of websites and brochures, giving the customer the impression that they would be dealing with a legitimate company, who would not only be able to offer training but also employment opportunities once the customer had qualified. The problem was that the training, although paid for, rarely materialised.
In a trial lasting six weeks, brought by Tower Hamlets Council Legal Services on behalf of the council’s Trading Standards in conjunction with the National Trading Standards Board-funded Tri-Region Scambusters and National E-Crime Centre teams, the jury heard from more than 15 witnesses from all over the UK who had been duped into purchasing LGV training from the defendants.
Mohammed Shuab Miah, 28, Ponler Street, Tower Hamlets; Mohammed Saidur Rahman, 27, of Bigland Street, Tower Hamlets and Simon Brindley, 46, of Kensington Road, Southend-on-Sea, were found guilty at the Old Bailey on four counts of fraudulent trading contrary to s.993 of the Companies Act 2006.
Sheikh Muhammad Osama Rahman, 27, of Penang Street, Tower Hamlets, had pleaded guilty to four fraudulent trading offences before the trial began.
A fifth defendant, Amzad Ali, 27, also from Tower Hamlets, was acquitted of all charges.
At an Old Bailey hearing before Hon Judge Bevan, Rahman was sentenced to six years and four months imprisonment and given a 12- year Director Disqualification Order; Miah was sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment and a five-year Director Disqualification Order; Mohammed Saidur Rahman was sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment and a ten-year Director Disqualification Order; and Brindley was sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment and a ten-year Director Disqualification Order.
Brindley had already been convicted of similar crimes by Enfield Council and had been jailed for 16 months, for his involvement with scam LGV training company Fast Track HGV Limited which operated from Mount Pleasant, Cockfosters.
Judge Bevan described the fraud as a “cynical ploy” and later summed up by saying: “On your own evidence you knew each other for years and must have known that each was prepared to act with disregard for victims. Another similarity is the desire to make easy money at the expense of other people.
“You are now and appear to remain contemptuous of your victims and any mitigation pales into insignificance in relation to loss deliberately caused to others.”
The fraud was identified by Tower Hamlets Trading Standards after a large number of complaints were received regarding the businesses registered to the defendants, and an investigation was started in June 2010.