Christopher Orchard, 39, who ran Advance AIT in Derby, was imprisoned after an investigation by the Insolvency Service led to a prosecution.
Derby Crown Court heard that, between April 2005 and July 2006, Orchard scoured a database of insolvent companies, and targeted the businesses that were listed as being owed money by these companies – their creditors.
Orchard contacted these creditors and persuaded them to sign up with him for a fee, by falsely claiming that he could pursue the owners of the insolvent companies and successfully get repayment of the debts.
For providing this service Advance AIT charged fees ranging from £95 to £7,000. In fact, no such service was provided.
Although the methods of deception employed by Orchard varied, a common feature was that he engaged in some minimal activities to create the impression that something was being done to ‘chase’ the directors and that he was providing a genuine service.
The investigation found that more than £258,000 was paid into the Advance AIT bank account between 8 April 2005 and 14 July 2006, reflecting at least 156 separate payments from clients.
Investigators also discovered that Orchard used company funds as a private income. More than £2,000 was spent on designer clothes, nearly £2,500 on holidays and more than £7,000 on groceries.
Following the investigation Advance AIT was wound-up in the public interest in July 2007 and Orchard was disqualified from being a company director for six years.
Robert Burns, head of company investigations and enforcement at
The Insolvency Service, said: "Orchard relied on the fact that most of the people he contacted had no idea of how the insolvency process works. He enticed unsuspecting creditors by promising a ‘no win, no fee guarantee’ and that they had ‘nothing to lose, but everything to gain’.
"Had these creditors known, they would have realised when a company goes into liquidation, it is the job of the liquidator to realise any assets and distribute them to the creditors."