Fraudster paid for dream wedding to cancer-stricken fiance with cash from European scam

A fraudster paid for a dream wedding to his cancer-stricken fiance by using the proceeds from an international removal company scam.

Friday, 12th July 2019, 3:17 pm
Updated Friday, 12th July 2019, 4:17 pm

George Todd promised customers his firm Euromove had a transport fleet which was reliable and insured to carry out long-haul removals, when in reality all he had was a "clapped out van".

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 39-year-old took more than £15,000 in payments from people, including customers in France, Germany and Spain, who were relocating hundreds of miles.

But the court heard Todd failed to show up to carry out the moves, between December 2015 and January 2016, and the 14 customers got none of their money back.

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Todd who eventually declared himself bankrupt, admitted three offences of fraud and one under the Insolvency Act.

The court heard Todd told investigators he had spent the cash he made on "roulette machines and alcohol".

But his barrister Robin Patton told the court: "He wanted to provide a wedding.

"It was spent on deposits. He didn't want to tell the insolvency practitioner in case it did something that would frustrate the wedding.

"He isn't a gambler and isn't a drinker."

Mr Patton said Todd's fiance, a call centre worker, had been diagnosed with cancer for a second occasion and added: "The prognosis for her at the time of these offences was extremely bleak."

Mr Patton said the couple are "devoted to each other" and the court heard the illness is now in remission.

Prosecutor Nicholas Lane told the court Euromove advertised as a business which carried out removals across the UK.

Todd took out an insurance policy in October 2015 which covered removals within the UK but cancelled it on December 4 that year.

He was declared bankrupt at the end of January 2016, after the offending.

Mr Lane told the court: "He declared at the time the bankruptcy was due to the face the single van he had available to carry out the moves had broke down and could not be economically repaired."

The court heard despite the state of his van and having no valid insurance policy for removals, Todd had taken the payments from 14 customers between December and January.

Mr Lane said: "Despite having a van which would regularly break down and having no insurance, the defendant nevertheless placed bids for a number of removal contracts that had been posted on website.

"Between December 15 2016 and January 12 2016 he took monies from 14 different customers.

"During that period a total of £15,427 from those wishing to move.

"In each case, having agreed to carry out the move, the defendant failed to show up and honour the agreement made and none of the monies paid were returned."

The court heard one customer had been relocating from Turkey to Andover and had paid £2000 to Todd, who he warned the move was "time critical" to prevent extra rental costs.

The work was never completed and the customer had to pay another removal firm and incurred additional costs.

Another customer was moving from Switzerland to Cheshire and paid £2,299.

Mr Lane said: "On January 27 2016, the day the move was due to take place, the defendant failed to show up."

Judge Stephen Earl sentenced Todd, who has no previous convictions and is "not a risk to the public" to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements.

The judge told him: "The offences were in relation to fraudulently taking on removal jobs from abroad, from people returning to this country, stating he has vans, transport to be able to move people from those locations whereas in reality in reality the business is one clapped out van which, frankly, keeps breaking down and does not have requisite insurances."

Judge Earl said he had read a letter from Todd's wife but did not reveal the contents of it.

The judge said Todd had demonstrated remorse and co-operated with the authorities.