Fish pie purchase leads to holiday con-man arrest
A CON ARTIST who tricked holidaymakers out of hundreds of thousands of pounds by convincing them to invest in fake villas abroad has been jailed.
Carlo Bulley, 38, operated what police say is the biggest ever holiday scam from addresses in Highgate and Muswell Hill.
Bulley advertised hundreds of non-existent holiday homes on websites for luxury holiday lets in Europe and the UK, Wood Green Crown Court heard.
He took money by bank transfer or PayPal from his unsuspecting victims, with the assistance of his then girlfriend Jaana Kettenun.
Devastated holidaymakers from countries all over the world, ranging from UK and Ireland to Hong Kong and Bermuda, paid out for the villas only to arrive to find they did not exist.
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It is estimated the fraud made more than �200,000 and ruined getaways for more than 300 victims including honeymooners, families with children and pregnant women.
Police suspect there are still more people who have not come forward and total losses are up to �300,000.
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Scotland Yard first discovered the scam, which began in 2006, after reports from victims led them to a bank account held by Kettenun registered to addresses in Highgate and Muswell Hill.
After a four-month joint Met and Sussex Police investigation, Bulley was eventually tracked down in September last year to a Tesco Express in Cardiff where he bought a fish pie with a credit card police were tracking.
Bulley, previously of Brunswick Place, Hove, was arrested and brought back to Brighton where he was charged with money laundering and fraud offences.
Det Con Tracey Dixon who investigated the case with Det Con Tommy Dodds from Haringey CID, said: “DC Dodds and I had sympathy with the situations the victims had found themselves in.
“We joined forces and, with the help of Sussex Police financial investigator Ed Taylor, began work to track Bulley down and stop these cruel frauds.
“We were on his trail for four months, during that time he continued to commit further offences using various different names, websites and bank accounts until on September 21, 2010, when we were waiting for him to return to a Tesco Express store in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff.
“Bulley was again using a false identity and tried in vain to convince police they were mistaken.”
Last November, Bulley pleaded guilty to fraud and on Monday was sentenced to four years in prison.
Sentencing at Wood Green Crown Court, Judge James Patrick said: “This was calculated dishonesty targeting a large number of victims who had saved, and saved hard, for their holidays and were left out of pocket.
“Bulley’s crimes blighted the lives of dozens and effectively corrupted his girlfriend and also had the effect of undermining confidence in genuine businesses.”
Kettunen, 38, also of Brunswick Place, pleaded guilty to money laundering in respect of the proceeds from the fraud when she appeared before Wood Green Crown Court last November.
She was given a community order to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work after already serving a year in jail while remanded in custody.