String of past offences

A man who pretended to own a luxury yacht in Egypt and is alleged to have tricked numerous other boat owners and buyers out of thousands of pounds has been made subject to a Bankruptcy Restrictino Order (BRO) for 15 years, the most severe penalty the Insolvency Service can impose.

Duncan Lawrie Herd, formerly of Barnstable, Devon but current whereabouts unknown, has a series of fraudulent actions are alleged against him but no criminal proceedings are under way. It is believed he may be operating under the assumed name of David Mann.

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. The order was made on 19th October 2009.

According to a report on the website, which is corroborated by news stories on various other websites, including Dive magazine:

  • 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 GBP18,525 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 GBP11,725. 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 GBP3000 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 GBP21,600 and the proposed purchase never took place.
  • He convinced a builder to part with a total of GBP17,000 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 GBP4000 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 GBP500, or when seeking to do any business in a different name.