Fraudster benefited by £14k but can only pay back £692

A TIMBER merchant who repeatedly defrauded online customers is estimated to have benefited from his crime by GBP14,101, a court heard. But the available amount to confiscate from Nick Burdon, 35, is only GBP692.92, seized money in a bank account, to be paid as compensation. Judge James Adkin dubbed him, “a persistent fraudster” as he imposed a 16-month prison sentence at Durham Crown Court, last August.

Burdon, formerly of Wingate, now of Preston Hill, Sunderland, admitted 15 counts of fraud, for sums totalling GBP9,500, plus one count of obstructing an officer. He was said to have left at least 15 customers across the North-East out of pocket by up to four-figure sums, taking as much as possible in advance payments and then fobbing them off with various excuses when the items they ordered failed to be delivered. The court heard he used various business names advertising timber products, sheds and summer houses on a number of online sites.

Robin Patton, prosecuting, said when customers, including a retired woman, a violinist, a company director and a police officer, responded, “he worked out how much he could extract from them”. Payment was made by deposit, instalment or the full amount up front and the customers were given delivery dates which were never met. The police officer, who was ordering timber, paid GBP322 by bank transfer.

When it was not delivered on time he sent texts to Burdon who did not answer. Mr Patton said the officer searched and found Burdon advertising on other sites, so, posing as a new customer, he was answered immediately. Burdon told him he would go to “the yard” to find out why his timber was not delivered but made no further contact.

The officer contacted his bank and was told the transferred money had already been moved on by Burdon. When stops were put on his accounts as police “closed in” Burdon continued his activities, receiving a GBP700 down payment from a customer via his mother’s bank. Mr Patton said by November 2018 Burdon was, “a wanted man” and was detained when stopped at the wheel of a truck, giving a false name to the arresting officer.

A crime proceeds hearing was told there were insufficient available assets to fully refund his victims.

But Judge Ray Singh told Burdon if he comes into money, property or assets, in future, a further claim can be made on him by the financial investigator.

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