Lamborghini-driving fraudster admits £225,000 nutrition course scam
- Credit: YouTube/FitLearn
Two fitness fraudsters today admitted running online courses which took thousands of pounds from customers across the world hoping to become nutrition experts.
Scott Wolfe, 38, and Katie Hope, 34, set up fake online nutrition courses which duped around 900 people from countries including Canada, South Africa, Singapore and New Zealand into handing over a total of £225,000 for qualifications that never existed.
On average people lost around £200.
At Norwich Crown Court this morning they admitted fraudulent trading through two companies called British Nutrition Council Ltd and International Distance College Ltd which traded as The Nutrition School.
Wolfe and Hope claimed that the courses were expertly written and recognised by the NHS and internationally.
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They also claimed that the courses were accredited or endorsed by an independent body, the British Nutrition Council.
But the reality was the British Nutrition Council was not a genuine body and was set up by Wolfe and Hope to lend false credibility to The Nutrition School courses.
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They also failed to give customers refunds and misled them on price.
The couple, of Unthank Road, Norwich, also admitted using a Lloyds bank account belonging to Hope to receive money from International Distance College Ltd.
Wolfe, who goes by several aliases, including Lord Scott Austin, Scott Cameron and Scott McKay, was also charged with forgery by faking a document in 2015 claiming to be from the Department of Health.
Wolfe was charged on two other counts of transferring criminal property.
He moved more than £98,000 out of a bank account belonging to International Distance College to his own account in 2016. On a second occasion later that year he transferred another £10,000.
Some of the money was moved overseas to an account in Mauritius.
The two firms have never filed any accounts and were struck off in 2017 at Companies House.
•'Game of cat mouse'
Wolfe used similar language to a firm offering genuine online nutritionist courses which then had to pursue him for years.
Maurice Castelijn, from the Health Sciences Academy, first got complaints from his students regarding Wolfe's organisations in 2015.
When he researched it further he said he found Wolfe had taken large sections of his website and imitated it.
Mr Castelijn then had to take legal action to get Wolfe's websites taken down, but new sites would keep appearing.
He said it was like a game of cat and mouse with Wolfe.
'It is stressful to go through this process,' he said. 'It casts doubt on the whole industry because people think, 'is this online course safe?'.'
An online forum, meanwhile, is full of customer complaints.
One person wrote: 'I paid, I was doing the exams nicely, and now they disappeared.'
Another said: 'I'm currently going down the line of trying to somehow get my money back. I've lodged a complaint with the Citizens Advice Bureau. I'm now aware the diploma means nothing but want my money back.'
Another unhappy customer wrote: 'They took my money and then disappeared. Total scam.'
•New Lowestoft company
More recently Wolfe and Hope have been involved with a new company in Lowestoft called FitLearn Ltd which offers personal training courses at the Enterprise Park.
They are not directors or shareholders in the firm but Wolfe has promoted himself as the 'founder' of the Norwich-registered company.
In a video on YouTube published in September last year, Wolfe gives viewers a tour of the FitLearn base, driving there in a Lamborghini.
And in an advert taken out by FitLearn in this newspaper last year Wolfe states he is personal trainer and an 'expert in the field of fat loss' as well as the founder of FitLearn.
The advert says he has worked in the fitness industry for 20 years, including appearing on Sky TV as a personal trainer.
Hope is listed as a personal trainer and tutor in the advert.
Fitlearn states on its website its courses are accredited and that was confirmed by the accreditation body to this newspaper. There is no suggestion of criminal behaviour at FitLearn.
Wolfe has 14 previous convictions including for dishonesty.
They will be sentenced in April following a two-year investigation by Norfolk Trading Standards.
Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council's communities committee said: 'These two fraudsters set up a business providing courses in a subject where they had no knowledge or expertise.
'I'm very grateful to the many witnesses who provided evidence which was so compelling that Mr Wolfe and Ms Hope had no option but to plead guilty to all the offences.
'We hope that today's result will send a clear message that fraudulent trading will not be tolerated in Norfolk.'