A rogue Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) training provider who conned people across the country out of more than £63,000 has been handed a suspended prison sentence and disqualified from being a director for five years. At Harrow Crown Court on Friday 24 June he was found guilty of misleading consumers under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
Between February 2018 and 21 February 2020, Usman Qureshi (39) of Rickmansworth (now living in Dubai), director of two companies, Mayfair Search Group Limited and UK GRP Services Limited, both trading as New Wave Driving School, duped his victims by promising to offer training services to get HGV training. Their convincing website claimed it would take a few months to complete and provided locations and availability. It quickly became apparent that it was far from the truth - large payments of up to £4500 were taken, with victims encouraged to sign up to credit agreements for training that was never delivered.
In some cases, consumers agreed to attend training at locations not local to them only to find the training had been cancelled at the last minute resulting in further cost being incurred due to travel costs and/or accommodation they had booked. The provider would not refund its customers.
Brent and Harrow Trading Standards, supported by National Trading Standards (NTS), investigated 23 complaints from across the country. The total loss to those consumers was £63,293. Statements from two finance providers who had terminated their agreements to lend to New Wave Driving School customers following numerous consumer complaints said they had payback adding up to a total of £281,000.
Mr Qureshi was sentenced to a 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for 24 months and must pay a total of £10,500 towards the prosecution costs and £17,500 in compensation. He has been disqualified from being a director for 5 years.
Cllr Anjana Patel, Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety said:
“Qureshi was only interested in lining his own pocket by taking advantage of his victims who needed training to help them with employment prospects.
“It’s the job of our trading standards officers are here to protect consumers, and I’d like to thank our team for the work put in to bring an end to this nation-wide scam. We’ll do the same to anyone else who thinks they are above the law and operate unlawfully.”
Trish Burls, Chair of the National Trading Standards Tri Regional Investigation Team, said:
“This investigation highlights the value and success of partnership working between a local authority and our national and regional trading standards teams.
“Our NTS Regional Investigation Team were able to provide valuable additional investigational and evidence gathering support to Brent Trading Standards to pull together this complex investigation.
“This allowed the full facts of the offences to be presented and considered in court, sending a clear message that fraudulent activities will not be tolerated.”
Anyone who wishes to report a rogue trader or suspects someone not operating legally should report a business or trader by contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Advice line on 0808 223 1133.
Notes to Editors
About National Trading Standards
National Trading Standards delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement. Its Board is made up of senior and experienced heads of local government trading standards from around England and Wales with an independent Chair. Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues.