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Convicted fraudster receives death threats after APM Clothing Developments is wound up
A CLOTHING business which has left a trail of creditors in its wake has ceased trading.
The Northern Echo previously reported that APM Clothing Developments – run by self-proclaimed ‘serial entrepreneur’ and convicted fraudster Mike Smallman – was on the brink of being wound-up.
Letters have been sent to customers in the past few weeks informing them of the situation.
Mr Smallman said he had received death threats from angry customers of the Newton Aycliffe-based business who, in some cases, have paid thousands of pounds for goods without the work being completed.
He also claimed “thugs” had turned up at his home and intimidated his partner, followed him and tried to run him off the road.
Since reporting Mr Smallman’s involvement with APM, The Northern Echo has had a steady stream of complaints from people across the country who have had dealings with him and say they are owed amounts ranging from several hundred pounds to more than £12,000.
Katie Castle paid £1,800 in two installments for the design and manufacture of some horse rugs with the intention of setting up her own business.
She said she the goods should have been delivered in July, but have never arrived.
Ms Castle, from Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, is now attempting to take Mr Smallman to court.
She said: “It is ridiculous. He has cost me a lot of time and money and has never given any reason for the delay.
“When I met him he was enthusiastic with great ideas and said he had a company in Vietnam.
“He said he didn’t do contracts as he said he didn’t like them and drew up some pro-forma invoices, which we were a bit dubious about.
“We’re still in contact, but he doesn’t talk any sense and is just saying that he is not going to refund us the money.”
When The Northern Echo spoke to Mr Smallman he said he “had the horse rugs in his hand”, but Ms Castle no longer wanted them.
The 50-year-old, who has been the director or secretary of more than two dozen dissolved companies, was jailed in 2008 after being convicted of a multi-million pound fraud following the collapse of the National Distance Learning College, in Middlesbrough, of which he was chairman. He was released half-way through his sentence in 2012.
He has admitted he did not reveal details of his criminal past to APM’s customers, instead preferring them to take him at "face value".
In the letter sent to customers Mr Smallman’s business colleague Simon Coates, who describes himself as a sole trader and ‘lead partner’ in APM, says the firm “always traded 100 per cent legally and above board”.
Its offices at Bede House, Newton Aycliffe, have now been vacated after Mr Smallman failed to pay rent arrears to the landlord.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for North Yorkshire police confirmed a man – understood to be Mr Smallman – had called at Catterick police station on Friday “with a third party” who then left.
The spokesman said: “The man was worried for his safety, but no formal complaint was made.”
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