Serial conman on the loose

2014-11-14 00:00

A SERIAL fraudster who ripped off Manchester United Football Club has allegedly fleeced a Durban businessman and is now on the run.

The career conman, who is linked to a string of criminal cases locally and abroad, is wanted by British Police and the Hawks — was last spotted near Pietermaritzburg.

Brandon William Pyatt, who uses a range of aliases, was last seen on the outskirts of the capital. His colourful pseudonyms include that of author and military analyst Robert Kershaw, and what appears to be Sherlock Holmes-inspired Brandon Moriarty.

On the back of fresh charges of theft filed by a fleeced Glenwood business partner last month, Pyatt has gone to ground as authorities scramble to rein him in.

Pyatt is understood to have gained notoriety in the late nineties, when he took on Manchester United Football Club when he began to market a range of French wines and brandy bearing the likeness of Eric Cantona.

He was later arrested on a number of copyright and fraud charges after Manchester United lawyers took Pyatt to the high court, claiming copyright infringement.

The businessman, who asked not to be named, said that he had befriended Pyatt before alarm bells tolled. “I met Brandon Pyatt at the Stella Sports club and we become friends. Over time we decided to go into a business venture and shortly after this began, I started to get suspicious,” he said.

“When I did a bit of digging on the Internet, I found that Pyatt was wanted by the South Yorkshire Police on their crime stoppers website on a variety of charges.

“Brandon William Pyatt is wanted on warrant after being sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for offences of theft, deception and fraud. He uses several other aliases and has committed offences in the Manchester area also,” the website reads.

The businessman accused Pyatt of stealing his vehicle.

“I had given him my Jeep to use, and when I contacted the Hawks, they told me to go with the flow while they got all the dockets together and liaise with the British authorities. When he got wind that they were onto him he fled and no one knows where he is,” he said. “We have been trying in vain to track him.”

In 2010 Pyatt surfaced in South Africa on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, when he was arrested in a drug sting.

Over 400 marijuana seedlings were found in containers at his home and in the wake of his arrest, Pyatt went on the run again after he failed to appear in court.

South Yorkshire Police officer Dave Wade confirmed that Pyatt was still being sought.

“I can confirm that we are still actively pursuing him and would appreciate any information which may assist us. I am unsure at this time what course of action we will take if he is in South Africa but will follow any information up,” he said.

The Witness has seen detailed correspondence between the businessman and local officers of the Hawks.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said police were investigating a case of a stolen car, but could not comment further.

Repeated attempts to contact Pyatt on his last known phone number proved unsuccessful at the time of going to press.

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za

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