Lowestoft: Couple lost £750 holiday after being conned by travel agent
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A Lowestoft couple saw their £750 holiday to Spain go up in smoke after they were conned by Lowestoft Travel boss Symon Webb.
Ashley and Gloria Lake, from Homeport, had paid cash for a £750 holiday to the Costa Brava in September 2011 but their dream turned into a nightmare when they realised the travel company had closed.
Mr Lake, 67, said: “I bumped into someone in the street and they said ‘Did you know Lowestoft Travel has gone out of business?’.
“So I rang them and got no response. I went over to their office at Hopton Timber Yard. It was all boarded up, no sign of life at all.
“That’s when I thought ‘Hang about, we’ve been ripped off here, they’ve taken our money’. “I was so, so angry. He just took our money and was going to rip us off from the very beginning.”
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On hearing Webb had been jailed for 16 months, Mr Lake said: “That has made me feel really good.
“He should have known what would happen when he took our money.
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“It still feels hard to know that someone can just take your money like that. I won’t pay upfront for a holiday again.”
Another victim from Lowestoft, who did not want to be named, bought tickets to see The Wizard of Oz in London, in March 2011 for her autistic daughter’s birthday.
The 45-year-old woman paid about £160 for the tickets.
Several days before the trip, they got a call from Lowestoft Travel to say the theatre had overbooked so the trip was cancelled.
She was suspicious and checked with the theatre to find tickets were still available.
Her friend went to Lowestoft Travel and found them packing stuff away, so she never got her money back.
On hearing Webb’s sentence she thought he deserved longer in prison for ripping people off.
“That is absolutely disgusting. It does not seem to fit for all the people he ripped off.”
“We saved a long time to get those tickets. We were devastated by what happened. It was a birthday treat for my daughter.”
The extensive investigation by Norfolk Trading Standards saw witness statements from more than 100 people,
David Collinson, assistant director of public protection at Norfolk County Council, said: “I am pleased with the sentence handed down by the court, which reflects the scale of Webb’s fraud.
“Webb let down and disappointed scores of people who lost out on thousands of pounds-worth of European coach holidays, coach and theatre trips, day trips and concerts – including Take That comeback tour dates in 2011. These were events that all of his victims were looking forward to. But while Webb took their cash, the trips and holidays failed to materialise.
“Our investigation lasted over six months and involved taking witness statements from more than 100 people, all of who had a story to tell.”
Dan Roper, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “I hope the sentence sends out a clear message of reassurance to residents that Norfolk’s Trading Standards officers will leave no stone unturned when it comes to investigating people who commit crimes of this nature and who seek to benefit from ripping off consumers in this way.”