"A lot of people had dreams of making it work."
Nazir Daud, aged 59, formerly of Leicester, has been jailed for four years after conning people into buying fake franchises.
He had urged people to set up their own Payrolls Direct franchise and work for themselves, claiming they would earn up to £2,000 a month.
However, it was all a big con and Daud’s only goal had been to defraud people by charging them to buy bogus franchises.
His co-defendant Anthony Raybould, Payroll Direct’s salesman, admitted his role in the scam.
On the other hand, Daud went on the run in 2022 after a magistrates’ court hearing.
There were fears he had fled the UK but it was revealed he had not left the country. In late 2023, Daud was arrested in Oadby after he attended a pharmacy to pick up a regular prescription.
At Leicester Crown Court, Judge Ebrahim Mooncey said that while the fraud amounted to £300,000, Daud’s crimes had more significant impacts on the victims.
Many had been encouraged by Raybould, who falsely claimed he had made thousands by being a franchisee.
In actual fact, he earned his money by receiving referral fees from Daud for finding new victims for the fraud scheme.
Judge Mooncey said: “A lot of people had dreams of making it work. They invested a lot of time and made decisions that affected their families.
“They talk about worrying all the time, going to conferences and suchlike. It wasn’t just a monetary value.”
Thirty people were charged up to £9,995 to buy the franchises.
Of those, 18 were involved in the prosecution by Leicestershire County Council Trading Standards Service.
Representing Daud, Harpreet Giani said his client fled due to fearing prison.
He said: “He says he was in the country. He was staying with different friends without disclosing to them that he was being prosecuted or in breach of his bail conditions.”
Mr Giani said Daud originally had an idea for Payrolls Direct to be a legitimate company but things “spiralled” out of control.
He added: “He had an idea and, as the Crown concede, it’s possible it was a legitimate business idea.
“He wants to come clean now. He understands he’s probably going to receive a long prison sentence.”
After being found guilty of breaking four fraud laws between 2015 and 2018, as well as failing to surrender to court, Daud was jailed for four years and ordered to pay £30,046.
At a previous hearing, he was ordered to pay £75,000 compensation to his victims. Daud is banned from being a company director for 15 years.
In December 2022, Raybould, who made a benefit of at least £10,000 from the Payrolls Direct scam and pleaded guilty to fraud, was sentenced to 22 months, suspended for two years.