Ipswich: Holiday company owner gets 40 months after swindling customers out of tens of thousands of pounds
A holiday company owner has been sentenced to 40 months in prison after swindling tens of thousands of pounds from customers.
Former owner of Ipswich-based ‘Blue Sky Lettings’ and ‘Lucy’s Caravan Holidays’, Michael Fisher, was sentenced today, Thursday August 8, at Ipswich Crown Court, following an investigation by Suffolk Trading Standards. It found 44-year-old Fisher had been taking money from customers who paid him to rent holiday caravans at Butlins in Skegness that he never owned. None of the consumers received the holiday they had paid for, or their got their money back.
In passing sentence, his Honour John Devaux said that Fisher was “deeply dishonest” and “skilled in the practice of deception”.
In 2009 Fisher from Jamestown Boulevard in Ipswich, took more than 200 bookings from consumers nationwide in the knowledge he did not own any caravans. He also attempted to pay staff, consumers and other businesses more than £130,000 using cheques from accounts that had either been closed down or only had a few hundred pounds in them.
After receiving initial complaints from members of the public, Trading Standards stepped in to shut down the Fisher businesses in April 2009.
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According to Trading Standards, 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.
One of Fisher’s victims, a 40-year-old mother from Lowestoft, who wishes to remain anonymous, paid out more than £700 for a non-existent caravan holiday advertised by Fisher. The victim asked Fisher for a refund saying in her letter; “I now have to tell my six-year-old son that he won’t be getting a holiday this year and maybe won’t be getting one for a long time”. Fisher never replied to the victim’s letter.
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Suffolk Trading Standards officer, Lee Nunn, said; “This successful prosecution highlights the work that Suffolk Trading Standards do to protect Suffolk consumers and businesses.
“As we are currently in the peak holiday season it is especially important to highlight Mr Fishers holiday booking con and we would advise consumers who have doubts about the legitimate nature of holiday companies, particularly those who advertise on online auction sites to be cautious before handing over their hard earned money.”