Hundreds of porn sites run out of 1 sleepy English town

© Fabrizio Bensch
Consett, a sleepy town nestled in the English countryside near the Pennines, is apparently the home of hundreds of porn websites. Sheepish locals say they had no idea.

More than 400 of Consett’s residents work as directors of shell companies for online businesses, which, to the locals’ surprise, sell anything from diet pills to hardcore porn.

The companies are said to have made millions of pounds as part of get-rich-quick schemes.

“All we’re supposed to be is just the names,” said former supermarket worker and local resident John Mawson. The 61-year-old man was a company director for years, but only recently discovered one of his enterprises was porn-site operator Thunder Flash Entertainment.

After being made redundant in 2009, Mawson signed up as “nominee director” for the company, after another Consett resident gave him £50 for his name and address. The role was “no legal status” in Britain and Mawson needed the cash.

“We were all on the dole and it was free money,” he added. “You didn’t have to do anything.”

An estimated 429 of Consett’s locals were signed up by a company formation agent living in the area called Simon Dowson. Dowson then services the firms his clients signed up as directors of.

“Smaller companies just use PayPal for transactions but larger businesses want to open corporate-level merchant processing accounts because PayPal fees per transaction are off the scale,” he explained.

To grow their businesses to that scale, entrepreneurs need to set up a European subsidiary with a local director, which is where the Consett population came in.

Dowson argued he was always honest about the nature of some of the businesses, which included porn websites such as amateurmilftown.com and naughtytrannyfun.com.

“Any individual that was ever appointed to a company by us 100 percent consented to do so, was aware of what the business was and received the fees for doing so,” Dowson said, adding that he was now ending his services as middle man.

But Consett local Emma Brown argued this was not the case and that she was “in complete shock” after finding out her company, Flashtime Bow Ltd, ran pornographic site amateurslutsociety.com.

“I have never had anything to do with porn. I am absolutely disgusted. I knew absolutely nothing about this,” she said.

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None of the set-ups created by Dowson are technically illegal, but it was reported that some of the companies to which Consett locals served as directors had come into conflict with regulators and other British and foreign officials. None of the residents or Dowson had been reprehended.

In 2013, 15 of the companies set up to service Dowson’s firms were presented public-interest petitions by the Insolvency Service. A spokesman for the government agency said that behind the petitions stood the fact that, 

An estimated 11 companies have since been closed down.