Businessman Vikram Mehta sentenced for 'ripping off' customers

The director of a company that sold goods to people through door-to-door salespeople has been jailed for defrauding customers.

Vikram Mehta was in charge of Flexi Buy, which sold electronic goods and household items.

He was convicted after customers made payments towards items that were never delivered.

It was 2013 and televisions were moving from analogue to digital.

South Auckland resident Ngaire Hayward wanted to upgrade, so when two people knocked on her door offering to sell her a TV, it was perfect timing.

"They said after 15 payments that I would receive the TV," she says.

She paid $30 a week and after 15 weeks still hadn't received the TV.

"I paid $1231 and something cents all up," she says.

But Ms Hayward wasn't the only one ripped off. The Commerce Commission launched an investigation against Mehta, Flexi Buy's director.

More than 20 people gave evidence against Flexi Buy - all with similar stories of making payments and not receiving the products or a refund.

Some customers also overpaid for their items. In one case, the contract price for a laptop was $990.The customer ended up paying $1720 - and she never received the laptop.

"Many wanted to cancel, they couldn't afford to pay," says prosecution lawyer Alysha Mcclintock.

"But once these people had been hooked into a contract by Flexi Buy it was virtually impossible for them to get back out of it."

Mehta's lawyer argued that the fraud amounted to just under $24,000, and pushed for a community detention sentence. But the judge disagreed.

"In my view it needs to be a sentence at the top of the hierarchy of sentences to send a message to Mr Mehta and any other persons who seeks to, in my words, rip off vulnerable people," said Judge Cunningham.

She sentenced him to two years in prison.