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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 May, 2005, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
eBay fraud boy detained for year
Phillip Shortman
An order preventing Shortman from being named was lifted
A teenage fraudster who conned customers of the internet auction site eBay out of 45,000 has been sent to a detention centre for a year.

Phillip Shortman, now 18, of New Inn, Pontypool, had already admitted 21 counts of fraud at a prior hearing.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how Shortman spent money he received for non-existent goods on weekends to New York, hiring limousines, and clothes.

He told one deceived customer: "This is my business - I make people fools."

Judge Roderick Denyer lifted a court order which had prevented Shortman's name from being made public, in order to protect other internet shoppers.

During his trial at Newport, magistrates had heard Shortman, who was 17 when he committed the offences, had deceived more than 100 eBay customers over a 13-month period.

He had spent the money on top of the range computer equipment, hi-fis and flat-screen televisions, as well as designer clothes and hiring stretch limousines for himself and his friends.

He became addicted to selling goods on the internet that did not exist.
Stuart McLeese

He took two friends on a trip to New York, staying in a five-star hotel and taking a helicopter ride over Manhattan.

Police were alerted by customers who had been conned by Shortman, and he was arrested and warned to stop his activities, but when freed on bail continued to deceive people.

The court was told he was addicted to the website, saying it "gave him a buzz".

He admitted 21 charges of obtaining property by deception and asked for a further 64 to be taken into consideration.

'Frittered away'

Prosecutor Stuart McLeese said: "He was living the good life. He became addicted to selling goods on the internet that did not exist.

"When people complained they had not received their goods, he taunted them saying that it was his business to make fools out of people."

"He frittered the money away to make friendships locally. Those friends have shunned him now."

The court heard Shortman had married and become a father since his arrest.

Defending, Lawrence Jones said: "Since he has admitted his guilt, his life has changed. He has undergone a sea-change.

"He is relishing fatherhood and looking forward to the responsibility of being married."

Sentencing Shortman to 12 months detention and training, Judge Denyer said: "You were a persistent offender and ignored warnings to stop this criminal conduct.

"The public are entitled to protection from someone such as yourself.

"There are clearly aggravating features in this case in that you obtained cash by selling goods on the internet site eBay and carried on this conduct for over a year despite the warnings."

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