A serial fraudster is beginning a three-year prison stretch for a massive E-Bay scam in which customers were duped into paying thousands of pounds for luxury watches which never materialised.
Ali Bakhtiary, 31, advertised the Swiss watches on the internet auction site, on which bidders paid sums of up to £6,000.
The three buyers told the crook they wanted to pay via PayPal, but Bakhtiary, of Franklin Mount, Harrogate, persuaded them to transfer the cash straight into his bank account.
Meanwhile, Bakhtiary was busy laundering the money by channelling thousands of pounds into his unsuspecting partner’s account and other vast sums into a friend’s.
Neither woman had any idea what Bakhtiary was up to, but they ended up being arrested for acquiring criminal cash.
The two women appeared in the dock alongside Bakhtiary on Friday.
However, prosecutor Jonathan Sharp made it clear that his co-defendants should be absolved of any wrongdoing.
The Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence against either of the innocent women - the defendant’s partner and former girlfriend - because Bakhtiary had used their accounts without their knowledge.
Bakhtiary - a serving prisoner who used to run a second-hand store in Harrogate selling and repairing laptops and mobile phones - admitted four counts of fraud between February and April last year.
He was led up from the cells after being jailed for three-and-a-half years in November for similar frauds.
Mr Sharp said that during the E-Bay con - which occurred while Bakhtiary was on bail for the previous offences - the crook “fobbed off” his customers with excuses when the watches didn’t turn up.
The first ‘winning’ bidder agreed to pay Bakhtiary £2,959 for a Breitling for Bentley watch in February 2015.
Two days later, Bakhtiary, who used an alias, asked him to pay by direct bank transfer rather than PayPal, whose holding methods guarantee receipt of goods before payment goes through.
The genuine article was never sent, but after being contacted several times by the bidder, Bakhtiary finally sent him a fake.
On April 3, the father-of-three put a Rolex Daytona up for sale and uploaded a picture of the watch, along with a price receipt purporting to prove is authenticity.
A second buyer won the auction with a £6,500 bid and Bakhtiary, using another false name, gave him details for a joint bank account he held with his girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Bakhtiary was busy conning victim number three who was looking forward to receiving a Brighton Chronomat watch following his ‘successful’ £2,050 bid.
Mr Sharp said none of the victims had much money, adding: “Each of them thought they were buying an investment.”
They had paid out a total of £11,512, of which Bakhtiary had funnelled just over £6,000 into the accounts of his innocent co-accused.
Mr Sharp said Bakhtiary had used a number of aliases in the past to con people in fake online auctions for expensive items such as computers, mobile phones and vehicles.
He once sold four non-existent cars for £950.
The court heard that Bakhtiary’s “terrible” criminal record included offences for theft, perverting the course of justice, breaching court orders and making off without payment.
At the time of his latest offences he was on bail for handling stolen goods at his second-hand shop in Cheltenham Crescent.
Mr Recorder Macdonald QC told Bakhtiary: “Whatever the courts do to you, you seem to come back and do it all over again to make easy money.”
Bakhtiary was jailed for three years and eight weeks, and made to pay a £120 surcharge.
He will be back before the court in July for financial-confiscation hearings which will determine how much he has to pay back for the profits he made from his ruse.