Ipswich: Serial fraudster duped 200 holidaymakers in caravan scam
Serial fraudster Michael Fisher is awaiting sentence today after admitting duping 200 people from across the country in a holiday scam.
The 44-year-old, of Jamestown Boulevard, Ipswich, also left consumers, staff, and businesses out of pocket by around £130,000 after attempting to pay them with cheques which he knew would bounce.
Fisher’s Ipswich Crown Court guilty plea came on the day his trial was due to begin following an extensive inquiry by Suffolk Trading Standards officers.
The conman’s convictions date back over 20 years, including an 18-month jail term for trying to rip off The Star’s Christmas appeal in 1998.
This time Fisher, former manager and owner of ‘Blue Sky Lettings’ and ‘Lucy’s Caravan Holidays’ swindled tens of thousands of pounds from customers who paid him to rent holiday caravans at Butlin’s in Skegness that he never owned. None of his clients received the holiday they had paid for, and only one got their money back.
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Fisher pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business between September 2008 and March 2009.
Judge John Devaux adjourned sentence until August 8.
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Fisher has a history of similar offences.
He was exposed by The Star in 1996 after pretending to raise £10,000 for our “Save Our Angel Appeal.”
Fisher was jailed for 18 months at Ipswich Crown Court after he claimed to be organising a raffle and auction to help fund a specialist nurse for children suffering from cancer.
Fisher, then living in Maidenhall Approach, Ipswich, was jailed after admitting 20 offences of deception. He asked for 53 offences to be considered.
At the time Roderick Newton, mitigating for Fisher said his client was living in cloud cuckoo land.
In 2003 Fisher, then of Lakeside Road, Ipswich, admitted four charges of having insufficient evidence of security due to his neglect while acting as a director of Golden Sands Holidays Ltd.
Around 70 to 80 people were left out of pocket after paying for caravan holidays or package tours.
Witham magistrates ordered Fisher to pay £832 compensation and £250 towards prosecution costs.
Fisher also had convictions for dishonesty in 1990 and 1991.
After the fraudster’s conviction, Lee Nunn, the trading standards officer who led the inquiry said; “Suffolk Trading Standards visited the Fisher’s business within hours of receiving the intelligence.
“We ensured that no further holidays were sold and as a result of this action Fisher’s business stopped trading shortly after this.
“However, hundreds of innocent victims had already been scammed by this time to satisfy Fisher’s 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 Fisher’s scam.”
Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Public Protection said; “I am delighted with the outcome and hope this sends a clear message to other traders who may be tempted to behave in this way.”
Holidaymaker Julie Tipling is the only one of Fisher’s latest victims to have got their money back.
Mrs Tipling said she had paid out £350 for a holiday at Butlin’s in Skegness in 2009 for what she believed would be the last holiday with her terminally-ill father.
The 44-year-old said: “In my mind it was something for my father to look forward to.
“But we missed out on a holiday and couldn’t really afford to go for one that year.
“I just felt really cheated by him (Fisher) because it was our last family holiday together.”
Mrs Tipling, of Bradford, was only able to get her money back after taking Fisher to county court.