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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 February 2006, 15:07 GMT
Firms tricked in web address scam
Anthony Ford
Ford was told by the judge to expect a custodial sentence
A man has admitted 24 charges of obtaining money by deception in an internet domain name scam.

Anthony Ford, 28, of Swansea, helped run Internet Registration Office Ltd (IRO), which tricked firms into buying addresses at inflated prices.

While IRO pretended to be a government department in Canary Wharf, London, it actually traded in one room next to a chip shop in Burry Port, west Wales.

Ford, who pleaded guilty at Swansea Crown Court, will be sentenced later.

He had denied charges of fraudulent trading but part way through a trial admitted 24 alternative offences of obtaining money by deception.

After the pleas the prosecution announced it would no longer seek convictions against Ford's co-accused, Philip Vranjes, 56, and his wife Betty Elphick, 51, both of Donisthorpe in Leicestershire.

Betty Elphick
Betty Elphick said she did not know Ford was using illegal tactics

During the trial the court had heard Ford, of Penllergaer, was in day-to-day control of the company.

Mr Vranjes and Mrs Elphick were directors of IRO but argued they did not know that Ford was using illegal tactics to gain custom.

The firm recruited telesales staff from a Jobcentre to cold call companies and read from a "scare" script to panic small businesses across the country.

IRO pretended someone had applied to register the target company's name as an internet address and told them they had 60 minutes to buy the or .com for themselves.

In addition to the sales scam IRO then inflated the charge from the one quoted.

During the three months IRO operated Ford was paid 31,000 and the two directors took 34,000.

After Tuesday's development Judge Keith Thomas adjourned sentence on Ford, who was engaged to Mr Vranjes' daughter, so that a report could be prepared into his background.

Judge Thomas warned him he had a prison sentence in mind.

Meanwhile, the judge ordered a police investigation into Ford's assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act with a view to making a confiscation order.

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