Fake golf clubs trader from Rainham must return £1m or head back to prison
PUBLISHED: 18:00 23 September 2011
»A Rainham businessman who pocketed a fortune by selling fake branded golf clubs on eBay was ordered to pay back £1million or face five more years behind bars.
Gary Bellchambers, 47, known as “The Big Man”, was jailed for four years and three months in March last year after he admitted masterminding the international scam.
His Thailand-based gang of British ex-pats – the self-styled “Rogues” – flooded the auction website with knock-off versions of big-brand golf equipment, netting millions in illegal profits.
Bogus clubs were manufactured in China, shipped to the UK for as little as £3 apiece and sold to customers worldwide for up to £100.
The scam only came to light when Essex pensioner Christine Manz complained to Havering Council about a club she had bought.
An award-winning council investigation, codenamed “Augusta” after the world-famous American golf course, revealed the astonishing scale of the illegal trade.
Bellchambers, of Dunedin Road, was back in the dock at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Tuesday for a confiscation hearing in his case.
The hearing had been scheduled to last for up to three weeks, with both prosecution and defence expected to present evidence in a bid to establish the true extent of his wealth.
But in an 11th hour deal with the authorities, Bellchambers agreed that his available realisable assets amounted to £998,638.95.
Judge Jacqueline Beech gave Bellchambers four months to pay that amount or face an extra five years of jail time in default.
The businessman’s total agreed benefit from the scam was set at £1,668,607.04, but the lower sum represents the money which is now available to him.
The judge also ordered him to pay £250,000 towards the costs of the prosecution.
Tracy Ayling, QC, representing Bellchambers, asked for six months for her client to pay the money, as a large part of his assets is made up of property in Thailand.
But Judge Beech told the defendant: “You are an intelligent man with great business acumen.
“I am sure you have many contacts in Thailand who will be able to help you liquidise your assets to meet the terms of this order.”
Bellchambers pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to sell or distribute goods bearing signs likely to be mistaken for a registered trademark as well as two counts of unauthorised use of trademark.
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