Jail for gang who netted £600,000 in pound store credit swindle
25th Aug 2013
Four Mercedes, two Range Rovers and champagne worth almost £15,000 were among luxury items ordered through shop company QV Stores, formerly known as Supergifts. The goods were sold on but never paid for – leaving suppliers across the country out of pocket.
A gang of fraudsters took over a chain of pound shops so they could swindle £600,000 of goods.
Four Mercedes, two Range Rovers and champagne worth almost £15,000 were among luxury items ordered through shop company QV Stores, formerly known as Supergifts.
The goods were sold on but never paid for – leaving suppliers across the country out of pocket.
Tanweer Ahmed, 42, of Elmlea, Hale, masterminded the scam.
He was branded a ‘total charlatan’ by Judge Roger Thomas QC, who jailed him for four years at Manchester Crown Court after he was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.
Ahmed was arrested earlier this year after stepping off a flight from Japan with a fake passport.
He used a string of aliases to avoid detection, telling staff his name was ‘Anil Kapoor’ – an alias he lifted from the star of hit film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
Ahmed’s partner-in-crime was Mohammed Razzaq, 43, of Higher Wheat Lane, Rochdale, who admitted conspiracy to defraud and was jailed for three and a half years. Mohammed Zia, 49, also of Higher Wheat Lane, played a lesser role in the scam and was jailed for two years after admitting conspiracy to defraud. All three have been disqualified from acting as directors.
The gang used a fourth man – who is being hunted police – as a figurehead to take over the company, the court heard.
They tricked staff into getting credit from wholesalers by using the previous owner’s respected name, before diverting hundreds of thousands of pounds of luxury vehicles, office furniture, motor oil, toilet paper, and eggs to a Manchester warehouse.
At its peak, in 2003, Supergifts was one of the country’s best-known discount stores, with 45 branches across England and Wales and an annual turnover of over £50m.
But, by 2008, many rivals had gone into the market and it was making losses which reduced the chain, then trading as QV Stores, to just a handful of shops.
Whilst staff at headquarters were bombarded with calls from angry creditors, the conmen used a ‘ghost’ office in Edinburgh so that they could not be traced. The company collapsed, just a few months after it had been taken over, in June 2008, owing debts of £1.5m to over 80 creditors.
The three shops left in the firm had never been restocked in that time, despite all the goods that had been ordered.