AN e-Bay trader based in Pendle began a postal fraud after being devastated by cut-price competition on the internet trading website, magistrates heard.

Mahmood Ahmed, an online trader for eight years, became frustrated after seeing the mobile phone chargers and batteries he supplied being sold for less than what they were worth, the Burnley court was told.

The 39-year-old, of Leeds Road, Nelson, had an account with Royal Mail which allowed him to send out his goods and then fill in dockets, to declare his outgoings.

But when he got into difficulties, he failed to submit the dockets to Royal Mail, meaning they could not invoice him for his postage under the scheme.

Janice Vallance, prosecuting on behalf of Royal Mail, said up to 700 postal packets, between March and August, were found in the system after an investigation.

Ahmed admitted fraud and was ordered to carry out 80 hours community service by magistrates. He must also pay £225 compensation to Royal Mail and £100 court costs.

Magistrates heard that Ahmed had suffered because other sellers were supplying the same products for less than it cost to make and distribute them.

Outside court, Ahmed said he was selling his accessories for around £6 but constantly found he was being undercut by other traders, one of whom was selling at least 40,000 items per week.

He is now planning to retrain as a tutor, teaching English to foreign language students.