An investigation by Wolverhampton trading standards officers uncovered a £15 million national scam.

Officers from the City Council sparked the probe into Yorkshire based small business online directory WeDoTrades, who had conned unemployed Wolverhampton plumber Akbar Montaseri into parting with hundreds of pounds in return for them finding him work.

Mr Montaseri, who signed a year long contract for £450 and £150 per month, contacted Wolverhampton Trading Standards after receiving no work and no contact from the company.

To stop the company taking money from him, Mr Montaseri was forced to close his bank account, prompting threats of legal action from WeDoTrades.

Trading Standards accessed the Consumer Direct national database and discovered 44 similar complaints. They sent out questionnaires and received 29 replies, mostly from Yorkshire, which also complained about WeDoTrades.

North Yorkshire and Humberside Scambusters took over the investigation, which discovered the huge fraud.

Mohammed Ahmed, from Manchester, pleaded guilty to both WeDoTrades and mortgage fraud and was jailed for 11 years at Leeds Crown Court last month.

Councillor John Reynolds, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for City Services, said: "This is an excellent outcome, thanks to the hard work of our Trading Standards team.

"By uncovering the scale of the fraud taking place and working closely with colleagues elsewhere in the country, our team has ensured a fraudster that was exploiting struggling businesses has been brought to justice.

"We would advise everyone to be wary of companies such as this, no matter how enticing they seem. If an offer seems too good to be true, then it usually is."

  • released: Thursday 23 January, 2014