Allegations mount against former fraudster operating under new alias
- Credit: Sarah Deamer
A former convicted fraudster who led a luxury car scam has been accused of breaching financial restrictions under a new alias, leaving people out of pocket.
John Allen, formerly known as Darren Palmer, has been reported to police in Suffolk, Essex and Devon for alleged offences including an unpaid hotel bill, taking payment for unfinished work and not returning deposits when he agreed to rent out his Rendlesham house.
A county court judgment has also ordered him to repay £47,000 to his ex-partner's relative who invested in his trading account.
Mr Allen, 51, said he had agreed to repay her in monthly instalments - and has denied criminal activity.
He said he was not proud of his past but had tried to move on. He claimed the recent allegations were made because people discovered his history and assumed the worst. "My crimes have haunted me for years," he said.
Under his previous alias of Mr Palmer, he was convicted of fraud at Ipswich Crown Court in 2010 for conning customers out of deposits they had paid on luxury cars, including a £237,000 Ferrari.
He was jailed for 443 days in 2015 after failing to repay almost £55,000 owed to eight customers he had duped.
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The Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit, which led the investigation, confirmed Mr Allen still owes money to his victims.
None of the fresh allegations against him are currently being pursued as criminal investigations, but his accusers claim financial restrictions imposed on him after his 2010 conviction should have stopped him taking their money
They have accused authorities of failing to enforce the rules.
Mr Palmer was ordered to sign a Bankruptcy Restriction Undertaking (BRU) in 2011, which lasts until 2023. It means he must not borrow more than £500 without disclosing his restrictions or carry out business under a different name without telling people.
Mr Allen said he followed the BRU's requirements, but his alleged victims say he failed to disclose his prior name or his bankruptcy, which would have made them more cautious about dealing with him.
Sarah Deamer, 48, who was in a relationship with him last year, said she only found out about his former identity when they split up. By this time the mum-of-three from Epping had taken out a £15,000 bank loan to invest in his trading account and advised a relative to invest a further five-figure sum. Ms Deamer claims Mr Allen insisted the money was secure - and they would receive monthly returns on top of their investment.
Mr Allen denies making assurances and insists they were warned of the risk. He said Ms Deamer had approached him about the possibility of investing.
She said Mr Allen's trading account suffered massive losses soon after they invested.
Ms Deamer said she extended her overdraft and took out thousands on credit cards to help him get trading again. His fortunes changed and within weeks he was earning six-figure sums, she said.
"He was on a high, everything was amazing," she said. "As long as he was making money, he was the nicest man."
Mr Allen repaid what he had borrowed from Ms Deamer, paid off her business loan, bought stock for her beauty parlour and decorated her home.
He also took her on shopping trips, buying a £1,500 Canada Goose coat. Ms Deamer said she appreciated the generosity but insisted she never asked for gifts and sometimes felt uncomfortable receiving them.
"It was all for show," she said.
But she said the account again suffered huge losses while the couple were on a £27,000 holiday in Dubai in September 2018.
Ms Deamer again took out money to help but their relationship broke down. Another family member, who had been looking into Mr Allen's background, had discovered his past as Darren Palmer.
"I felt like an absolute mug," Ms Deamer said. "How was I going to get my money back?"
She reported Mr Allen to Essex Police, accusing him of defrauding her - but was told the matter was civil.
Meanwhile, her relative pursued him through Ipswich county court. A judgment was issued against Mr. Allen earlier this year, ordering him to repay the relative £47,000. Mr Allen recently offered to pay it off in £250 monthly instalments.
Mr Allen claims he told the relative of his past in an agreement.
He said he had paid both women some of their monthly returns.
Ms Deamer said: "I feel seriously let down by the system."
Police said fraud investigations can be complex and victims were often offered advice on safeguarding their money.
Complaints raised about unpaid bills, unfinished work and house deposit
Complaints about John Allen and his past have been building in recent weeks.
Mum of five Jessie Carter contacted him in September about his house in Rendlesham, which was advertised to let online.
She and her partner paid a £1,835 deposits - but then struggled to contact him. Ms Carter became concerned when she saw the property was advertised on other sites. She continued searching and found the property on TripAdvisor. One reviewer posted a warning about his past as convicted fraudster Darren Palmer. "My heart sank," said Ms Carter.
She asked Mr Allen to return the deposit but claims he told her to deal with his solicitor. Meanwhile, Ms Carter began posting warnings on Facebook.
She reported Mr Allen to Suffolk police - but he also reported her for harassment over the Facebook posts. Police said the deposit would have to be dealt with by civil courts, while both parties would be advised over the harassment claims.
Mr Allen claimed the rental agreement broke down when he found out about Ms Carter's three large huskies. He said he would have returned the money but Ms Carter and her partner had failed to give him time to do so after learning about his past before posting on social media.
Mick Cotton, meanwhile, agreed to pay Mr Allen £1,300 plus VAT for a painting job in Rendlesham in July. But he complained to Action Fraud after Mr Allen left the job unfinished. Mr Allen said all the money he received was for work he completed and materials he bought.
A magazine publisher also claimed Mr Allen owed him money for adverts he had agreed to publish but which Mr. Allen did not did not pay for. The 12-month deal would have cost almost £2,000 but had to be pulled after four months because Mr Allen had not made any payments. He admitted not paying for the adverts - but claims he had been guaranteed offers of work off the back of them, which never materialised.
Marc Smith, who has a bespoke furniture and design company in Devon, said Mr Allen contacted him on October 10 to ask about decorating work. He was invited onto a job in Lyme Regis and received a 25% deposit for the work up front. But he called up sick and did not attend for three days.
After Mr Allen asked the client for a further £250, Mr Smith grew concerned, searched for his number online and found Ms Carter's posts. He has not repaid the money or delivered the materials.
During the visit to Devon, Mr Allen had been staying at Home Farm Hotel in Wilmington. Hotel owner Richard Morgans said he left without paying the £531 bill. Mr Morgans reported Mr Allen to police. Officers in Northamptonshire arrested him on Monday. He admitted staying at the hotel, but claimed he had a verbal agreement to repay the money. Mr Allen was bailed to return to Exeter Police Station.
Mr Morgans said he had little hope Mr Allen would return to Exeter. "It makes a mockery of the system," he said.
Mr Allen said he left Devon because he was ill but fully intended to return to complete the work and pay the hotel bill. He said he had agreed to return on Friday - but by then the client had heard about his past and did not want him to work.
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