Brothers jailed for eBay sales scam after WMP fraud investigation
Two brothers have been jailed for running a nationwide eBay sales scam after West Midlands Police fraud investigators found they tricked hundreds of victims into using their accounts to con buyers.
Calvin Ainsworth purported to run recruitment agencies looking for “Trading Assistants” to help sell mobile phones and computer tablets via the online auction site.
Unwitting victims posted the lots – offered at knockdown prices – using their eBay accounts and then handed cash profits to couriers acting on Ainsworth’s behalf.
But goods were never delivered and, while Ainsworth made at least £106,000 from the scheme, victims had their eBay and PayPal accounts frozen – and some were hounded by bailiffs chasing debts owed to duped customers.
One woman was forced to re-mortgage her home while another spiralled into depression.
West Midlands Police’s Economic Crime Unit picked up the case in 2015 following dozens of complaints to the national Action Fraud reporting centre.
Detectives traced a web IP address used to contact victims to Ainsworth’s former home in Beech Close, Rugeley. The 26-year-old was arrested on 4 September 2015 at a flat in Great Colmore Street, Birmingham – shared with his older brother Jared Ainsworth – and phones and a laptop seized for examination.
And a later police warrant was executed at an address in Sheffield linked to 31-year-old Jared’s partner Ameena Hussain.
Calvin Ainsworth skipped bail and fled to The Philippines but was detained in June 2018 by the Philippine Fugitive Search Unit and returned to the UK on 7 June this year.
Jared – who along with Hussain acted as a courier collecting cash from duped sellers – was initially arrested at Manchester Airport arrivals on 2 November 2015 where he was found with a taser type stun device disguised as a torch.
He also fled to The Philippines but was arrested on 15 August this year having surrendered while Hussain’s bid to abscond was scuppered when officials alerted West Midlands Police that the 25-year-old had applied for a new passport.
Detectives identified 115 fraud reports in the West Midlands and uncovered evidence of the brothers gambling their ill-gotten gains in casinos and making repeated business class trips to The Philippines.
Calvin Ainsworth admitted 35 counts of fraud by false representation and at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (22 Nov) was jailed for five years and seven months.
Jared Ainsworth was given a three year four month sentence after admitting three counts of money laundering and possessing a taser.
Hussain was given a suspended jail term and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid community work having admitted money laundering, possessing criminal property and lying in order to obtain a passport.
Detective Constable Louise Watt from the Economic Crime Unit, said: “This was a large-scale fraud; bogus job adverts were placed on Facebook, Reed, Monster, Total Jobs and other sites and there was no shortage of applicants.
“They were asked to post electrical items for sale…but the products didn’t exist. We’ve identified 115 victims – many in the West Midlands but others in Blackpool, Manchester and Leeds – and that figure I’d suggest is the tip of the iceberg.
“Some victims were chased by debt collection agencies and suffered huge amounts of stress at being tricked while the Ainsworths spent their criminal cash on luxury holidays.
“This has been a painstaking investigation stretching back several years. We linked the brothers to the frauds through detailed analysis of their phone activity, computer use and financial dealings. The compelling evidence led to all three admitting their guilt.
“I hope this case illustrates that serious fraud conspiracies like this will be fully investigated and offenders face time behind bars.”