Woodford Green man sentenced after spell in Bangkok jail for part in biggest-ever eBay scam
PUBLISHED: 16:19 15 July 2013 | UPDATED: 16:19 15 July 2013
A Woodford Green man has been sentenced for his part in the biggest-ever eBay scam, after spending five months in a Bangkok prison.
Raymond Cook, 54, of The Vale, Woodford Green, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell or distribute counterfeit goods and was sentenced to nine months in jail at Basildon Crown Court on Friday.
However, he was free to leave the court after Judge John Black took into consideration the conditions he endured during his spell in a Bangkok prison, where he was placed whilst fighting extradition back to the UK.
During the 156 days he spent in the Thai prison, Cook lost more than nine stone in weight and was forced to share a cell and toilet with 49 other inmates.
He was a co-conspirator in a $3million global scam selling fake golf clubs on eBay over a five-year period, between 2003 and 2008.
During that time around six tonnes of clubs were delivered to the UK from factories in China, where they were manufactured for as little as £3 apiece.
Addressing Cook, Judge John Black said: “I’m told you were chained by the ankles and required to share a cell and toilet facilities with other inmates.
“The conditions you were detained in should be seen as part of your punishment.”
Cook had moved to Thailand with his wife before signing up for the scam, when he began setting up numerous eBay accounts to sell the goods.
The operation first came to light after pensioner Christine Manz complained to Havering Council about a club she had bought, confirmed as fake by her local golf club’s resident professional.
The resulting investigation, labelled “Augusta” by Trading Standards, was the longest ever and eBay describe the scam as the single biggest sale of counterfeit goods ever on the site.
Two other men, Brian Ferrigno, 70, of Hertfordshire, and Paul Biggerstaff, 40, of Buckinghamshire, were also sentenced to a combined 28 months in prison alongside Cook following a five-and-a-half week trial.
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