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Fraudulent Traders prosecuted

Published Friday, 13 December 2013

Two fraudsters who sold dodgy HGV training schemes to unsuspecting members of the public have been jailed after being prosecuted by Enfield Council.

Hardeep Singh Bharya, 28, of Roseville Road, Hayes, and a second man, who ran Fast Track HGV Limited denied but were found guilty of Fraudulent Trading contrary to section 993 of the Companies Act 2006 at Wood Green Crown Court on Friday 13 December.

The duo conned people who wanted to gain employment as HGV drivers with a string of broken promises while pocketing more than £1,000 from each applicant.

Singh Bharya, the director of Fast Track was sentenced to three years and six months in prison while the second man was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment.

Enfield Council’s Trading Standards team investigated the company after receiving complaints and ultimately more than 200 customers complained to the local authority. The borough’s legal team then took on the prosecution.

The people affected typically purchased courses priced between £1,000-3,000. Consumers were often unemployed, recently made redundant, or new immigrants to the UK looking for work - those who could least afford to lose significant sums of money and those lacking the skills to retrieve their cash. 

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Chris Bond, said: “These charlatans conned money out of people who were desperate for a job and who were in many cases unable to claim their money back after realising they had been taken for a ride.

“Enfield Council will not tolerate shady business practices in this borough and I am delighted these con men have been severely punished for lining their pockets at the expense of unemployed people looking to do the right thing and get a job to support themselves and their families.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Property, Cllr Andrew Stafford said: “It is frankly unacceptable that people seeking to make a positive contribution to society should be targeted and robbed blind by unethical traders whose only interest is making a quick buck.”

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of the National Trading Standards Board, said: "Enfield Council’s successful prosecution of Fast Track demonstrates how trading standards teams frequently deal with complaints from people all over the country when clamping down on disreputable traders and conmen in their areas.

“Conmen and fraudsters need to know that trading standards teams up and down the country are working tirelessly to track down and bring to justice those businesses and individuals who make a profit out of misleading and lying to residents.”

The court heard that the pair, operating the business in Mount Pleasant, Cockfosters, persuaded people to sign contracts for HGV training by misleading them about the location, price and content of the course and then spent the proceeds.

The company offered HGV and PCV driver training courses nationwide advertising via Google on the internet; however consumers were first required to complete their medical and hazard perception and theory tests. This led to the company holding onto and spending monies paid in advance by consumers.  

The training was either partially completed or not at all and many customers waited for several months before they started practical training. They were often told they would have to travel to Enfield to train, after being told they could train locally at a Fast Track facility. 

Other misleading statements included the claims that Fast Track was a Driving Standards Agency (DSA) approved training school and also unauthorized credit and debit card transactions were processed for courses which had not been agreed.

Fast Track also failed to respond properly to complaints and requests for refunds and caused a loss to credit card processing businesses by encouraging consumers to pursue chargebacks.

Singh Bharya was prosecuted for regulatory offences in January 2011 in relation to the false representations as to the number of vacancies and salaries achievable in the HGV industry. That prosecution was brought by Tower Hamlets Trading Standards in relation to another business Highlife HGV run by Singh Bharya.

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