Maximum bankruptcy order placed on South West fraudster

A man who used a series of ruses to defraud numerous people of sums totalling almost �123,000 has had a 15-year Bankruptcy Restriction Order imposed on him, the maximum length possible.

A man who used a series of ruses to defraud numerous people of sums totalling almost �123,000 has had a 15-year Bankruptcy Restriction Order imposed on him, the maximum length possible.

Barnstaple County Court imposed the BRO on Duncan Lawrie Herd this week after an investigation by the Insolvency Service found that he had engaged in elaborate deceptions to convince people into handing over sums up to �38,000.

Mr Herd variously pretended to be the owner of a luxury yacht in Egypt which he 'sold' to buyers; pretended to be a property developer and took 'deposits' for his alleged developments; and convinced another person to hand over tens of thousands of pounds to help fund an alleged clean-up operation he claimed to be carrying out following the Asian tsunami. His victims came from several places in England, including London and Dorset

Mr Herd's last known address was in Barnstaple. His current whereabouts are unknown and it is believed he may be operating under the assumed name of David Mann.

Exeter Official Receiver, Dean Beale, said:

"Inquiries by the Insolvency Service found that Mr Herd had been engaged in a pattern of deceptive behaviour over a number of years, convincing genuine businesspeople to hand over large sums of money to fund his fantasy schemes.

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"To protect the public, we took action in the court to impose the maximum restrictions possible. If anyone has further information about the activities of Mr Herd or knowledge of his current whereabouts, they should get in touch with us."

A Bankruptcy Order was made against Mr Herd on 16 June 2008. Normally, this would have led to a discharge 12 months later, however the automatic discharge was suspended in March this year and that suspension is ongoing.

Evidence presented to the Court by the Insolvency Service revealed:

* Mr Herd pretended to own a yacht which was moored in Egypt. Between September 2004 and January 2007 he convinced a boat importer to pay instalments totalling �18,525 to fund the transport of the boat to the UK, offering to pay back the money and split the costs of a planned sale.

* During the same period he also convinced a businessman to sign an agreement of the yacht and received a total of �11,725. In fact the boat was owned by another party with no connection to Mr Herd, and there were never any plans to sell it in the UK.

* He convinced a businessman to pay him �3000 for a boat engine in November 2004, but the engine was never supplied.

* Between February 2005 and July 2006 he convinced a businesswoman to loan him more than �37,000 for a clean-up operation he claimed to be organising in the wake of the Asian Boxing Day tsunami. He failed to provide evidence that he was involved in any such operation, and did not repay any of the money.

* In January 2006 he convinced another individual to sign a Partnership Agreement and a Joint Venture Agreement on the basis that they would be buying land in Egypt for development. The person involved lost �21,600 and the proposed purchase never took place.

* He convinced a builder to part with a total of �17,000 between March and August 2007 to fund an alleged building project, the purchase of a yacht, and open an off-shore bank account. The money was never repaid.

* In September 2007 he persuaded another individual to part with �4000 as a first instalment on a boat which had been repossessed and offered for a bargain sale. The individual did not receive the yacht, and did not get a refund.

At various times Mr Herd had told Government authorities, including the Insolvency Service and HMRC, that he worked as a diver in Spain, a project manager in the Middle East and West Africa, a gas fitter, a plumber, and had worked on projects in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also briefly a director of two companies in 2006 and 2007.

Under the terms of the BRO Mr Herd is restricted from acting as a company director without the permission of the court. He must also disclose his bankruptcy restriction when applying for credit of more than �500, or when seeking to do any business in a different name.