A FRAUDSTER tried to con the Queen’s representative in Essex by selling him energy efficient lighting that never arrived.
It has emerged Lord Petre, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex and owner of Ingatestone Hall, was a target of Matthew Ames, 38, of Goldfinch Lane, Thundersley, who was last week found guilty at Isleworth Crown Court of two counts of fraudulent trading.
Happy ending: Lord Petre
It emerged during his trial that as well as running bogus schemes the Investor Club and Forestry for Life from offices in Dunton Road, Laindon, between 2008 and 2010, he was behind the Carbon Neutral Business Directory (CNBD), whichtook money for ecofriendly office equipment that was never supplied.
Ames was a shadow director at CNBD and was doing deals while being investigated for scams.
Stately home: Ingatestone Hall
Lord Petre ordered £7,000 of energy efficient lighting and only got money back when he took Ames to court.
He said: “I took them to court, thinking there was no chance of seeing it again.
They initially resisted the claim, saying they had gone into liquidation. But, literally, as we were about to go to court, a cheque came through.”
CNBD was set up at the same offices as Forestry for Life, in late 2010, but closed without warning, leaving no forwarding address, in 2012.
It later surfaced at a unit on Ivanhurst Industrial Estate, inWickford.
Shadow director: Matthew Ames
Ames ran it as a “shadow director”, meaning there was no record of him being a director at Companies House, but the website was registered to his home address.
Antony Swift, specialist fraud lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “At the time of his arrest, with his existing businesses no longer attracting investment, Mr Ames was in the process of setting up a new company, (CNBD).” Ames was in charge of day-to-day operations.
DLD Bespoke Solutions, which has a factory in Woolaston Way, Basildon, paid the same amount as Lord Petre, but got no money back.
A company spokesman said: “Ames sold it to us and was the only person we dealt with.We tried to sue the company, but after paying out £1,000 on legal costs the civil court was told the company had no money left, so we dropped it.”
No lighting: DLD Bespoke Solutions
Ames told the jury in his trial that he set up CNBD to pay back investors from Forestry for Life, but could not do it because of all the negative publicity surrounding his firms.
According to Companies House, CNBD is 17 months late with its first set of accounts. Last summer, an application was made to dissolve it, but people still owed money objected and this has been suspended.
Ames is due to be sentenced next month after being found guilty of two counts of fraud.
A police spokesman said it would investigate CNBD if complaints were made.
If you have lost money to the business, e-mail jon.austin @nqe.com or call 01702 321152.