Suspended sentence for eBay conman

A FRAUDSTER has received a suspended jail term after conducting an internet scam that left dozens of people out of pocket.

Elliot Furniss

A FRAUDSTER has received a suspended jail term after conducting an internet scam that left dozens of people out of pocket.

Brett Buchanan, 31, admitted taking more than £10,000 in payment from 65 people for a range of designer items he sold on the eBay internet site and failing to provide the goods.

Yesterday Buchanan, formally of Turner Road, Colchester, was handed a 10-month suspended sentence and was also given a series of confiscation orders that he will have to pay as recompense to the victims.

The court heard that Buchanan had used a string of different seller identities and a range of post boxes to conduct the sales between 2005 and 2007 and was advertising iPods, Mulberry handbags and furniture he had ordered from China.

By the time the shipments arrived in the UK, Buchanan had already accepted payment for the goods but, upon finding the items to be counterfeit, did not send them out and kept the cash.

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He admitted eight counts of fraud and a further 57 instances were taken into consideration by the court.

Prosecutor Margia Mostafa said Buchanan had used variations on his personal details to avoid detection by both eBay and Mulberry, which only trades through official outlets.

Buchanan was arrested after police and trading standards officers obtained a warrant to search his home after being contacted by eBay, which had suspended his selling accounts after receiving feedback from unhappy customers.

He admitted failing to provide the goods to those who had won the items at auction but told police he believed he had ordered genuine items from China.

Claire Ashcroft, mitigating, said: “These proceedings have really brought home to Mr Buchanan the seriousness of the enterprise he embarked upon. It looks intentionally dishonest, but it didn't start out that way. There was also genuine, legitimate trading going on.”

In sentencing, Recorder John Caudle said it was clear Buchanan was an intelligent man and had begun trading “legitimately” but quickly turned fraudulent and left himself with “no way out”.

He said: “It appears you have debts and responsibilities to your family, but you shouldn't turn to crime to solve that - the vast majority of people don't and they work to sort it out.”

Buchanan, who now lives in Chelmsford with his fiancé and two young children, was told he had a chance to leave his time as a “fraudsman” behind and lead an honest life.

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