In the Media

Dragon's Den fraudster sentenced

PUBLISHED February 17, 2012

Mark James-Dawson, Crown Advocate for the CPS said: ?This was a particularly brazen and audacious fraud, carried out on national television. Jean-Claude Baumgartner claimed to own software vital to the business opportunity he pitched on BBC?s Dragon?s Den, and went on to fabricate evidence of advance orders for his product from overseas retailers and the world famous department store, Harrods. ?It was clear that Baumgartner had come to rely on fraud as his only way of surviving in business, but when the Dragons asked for repayment of an agreed loan, his web of deceit began to unravel as it became clear that he had begun to live the life of a successful businessman before the business was a success. ??Faced with the strength of the prosecution case, Baumgartner has today decided to plead guilty ahead of the start of his trial and was sentenced to two years and eight months.? Background information: Baumgartner secured investments and loans from Dragons Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis totalling ?230,000. On June 18 2009, Baumgartner appeared on the BBC TV program Dragons? Den to ask for an investment in his company Satsport which produced a GPS device for sporting activities such as skiing. His pitch impressed Dragons Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis who chose to invest ?65,000 for 24 per cent?equity each. Despite the regular and careful checks carried out by the businessmen, Baumgartner?s fraudulent claims of ownership of the software for a GPS Satellite Navigation system were not brought to light. Baumgartner did not in fact complete payments for ownership of the system until March 2010. In November 2009, he set out to secure a further ?100,000 from the investors by claiming that the product had suddenly taken off with several large orders. He provided the investors with a raft of false and doctored emails supposedly showing orders for thousands of units from markets in Europe and North America. This included an entirely fake order from Harrods. He even falsified paperwork from his own accountants, fabricating figures for turnover, net profit and cash in the bank. When the loan was not repaid as agreed, Baumgartner?s web of deceit began to unravel. He claimed to have repaid the agreed amount by cheque. When asked why he had not ordered an electronic payment as is normal, he explained that a power cut in London had prevented him from doing so. The cheques subsequently bounced.