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3 July 2013, 12:15
A man from Ipswich has admitted conning more than 200 people in a scam over caravan holidays.
44-year-old Michael Fisher was the manager of ‘Blue Sky Lettings’ and ‘Lucy’s Caravan Holidays’ when he swindled tens of thousands of pounds from his customers who paid him to rent holiday caravans at Butlins in Skegness that Mr Fisher never owned.
None of the consumers received a holiday that they had paid for, or their money back.
In 2009 Mr Fisher took over 200 bookings from consumers nationwide in the knowledge he did not own any caravans and attempted to pay staff, consumers and other businesses over £130,000 using cheques from accounts that never had more than a few hundred pounds in or had been closed down.
After receiving initial complaints from members of the public, Trading Standards stepped in to shut down the Fisher businesses back in April 2009.
Mr Fisher has a long history of convictions for deception related crimes dating back to 1990, including several counts of theft, obtaining services dishonestly and setting up other fraudulent businesses to take money under false pretences.
Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection said; “I am delighted with today’s outcome and hope this sends a clear message to other traders who may be tempted to behave in this way.This investigation and subsequent plea really enforces the strong stance that Trading Standards take against criminals.
"This has been a lengthy case and has involved a lot of hard work by Trading Standards and their colleagues at the police. The level of deception this has highlighted is sadly not unique and I would urge consumers to be especially cautious when dealing with online traders."
Lee Nunn, Suffolk Trading Standards officer said; “Suffolk Trading Standards visited the Fishers business within hours of receiving the intelligence - we ensured that no further holidays were sold and as a result of this action Fishers business stopped trading shortly after this.
However, hundreds of innocent victims had already been scammed by this time to satisfy Fishers greed, which included stealing the hard earned savings from families who were looking for an affordable holiday when he knew he would never provide such a holiday.
“It is important to recognise that the prosecution could not have gone ahead without information from the victims of the Fisher scam, many of whom provided witness statements and evidence – Trading Standards offer our thanks to Fishers victims.”
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for 8 August 2013.
And this isn't the first time Fisher has been caught using scams: