It is not certain exactly how many charges of fraud were brought against Jamie Lane of Paignton in Exeter; at least seventeen of them were dismissed, but enough were upheld to send him to jail for two years. Lane, a 39-year-old man with what was described by his solicitor as “a dreadful history” finally pleaded guilty on 21 charges of theft, fraud and handling stolen goods.
Lane appeared at Exeter Crown Court last month, where the court was informed that most of an approximately £80,000 scam came from eBay transactions in which the accused sold property he had stolen, or accepted payment for property he never owned. He then ‘washed’ the money he received by purchasing and re-selling used cars.
In a long series of fraudulent transactions that took place between November 2007 and December 2010, Lane stole farm machinery in various locations around Devon and Cornwall, including tractors, trailers and chippers. He then sold them at auction to buyers who were unaware they were purchasing stolen goods.
The police were investigating the sales of those stolen goods when they uncovered another aspect of Lane’s chicanery; he was also advertising on eBay offering products that did not exist. He got around the usual payment security measures by persuading buyers to contact him directly. Lane’s ads said shipment of the product would take place upon payment, but no products were shipped.
Defence for Jamie Lane argued that the defendant had a terrible upbringing and a diagnosed case of Asberger’s, and simply could not help himself. They said he had a congenital history of lying that was a result of an unhappy childhood; presumably he learned to cope with it by lying and stealing.
The judge, John Neligan, decided that was not a good excuse. He said the defendant was guilty of harming a lot of people, and prosecutors said there were probably a lot more who hadn’t yet learned of the fraud, therefore had not come forward to claim restitution.