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Serial eBay fraudster jailed for two years

He's a bit thick, admits defence lawyer

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A low-rent recidivist con man who targeted eBay customers was jailed for two years on Tuesday.

Phillip Shortman, 20, from Cwmbran near Newport in south Wales, was sent to a young offenders' institution following a conviction for ripping off consumers to the tune of £14,000 and breaching the terms of his probation.

Shortman was given an eight-month suspended sentence in January after he was convicted of buying thousands of pounds in stolen fuel cards. He was also found guilty of another £45,000 eBay fraud in 2005, an offence that earned him a year in a detention centre.

This time around the married father-of-two ran bogus auctions for items including 2006 Ryder Cup tickets, a Sony camcorder, and hi-tech mobile phones. He also obtained goods including a £250 laptop and computer parts without payment. Shortman responded to requests for payment for the laptop by sending abusive emails to the seller.

Newport Crown Court heard that Shortman spent his ill-gotten windfall on limo rides with his mates and shopping trips to New York, the BBC reports. Shortman was due to be sentenced last Friday but the hearing was postponed to allow police to question him about the fraudulent purchase of a £850 Vauxhall Astra. Lawyers acting for Shortman asked for the offence to be taken into consideration in sentencing.

His barrister Laurence Jones said that his client was of lower than average intelligence and seemed to derive pride from defrauding customers on eBay. "He is 20 and I ask the court to bear that in mind when sentencing him. His best, and perhaps only point of mitigation, is the full and frank admissions made to police during interviews," Jones said.

Sentencing Shortman, Judge David Morris said that Shortman's action undermined trust in ecommerce: "When those like you deceive purchasers and vendors over the internet, it strikes at the system as a whole and brings otherwise respectable trading institutions and individuals into overall disrepute."

Shortman faces a return trip to Newport Crown Court, scheduled for 21 November, where he'll face a proceeds of crime hearing. ®

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