A travel agency manager has been jailed for tricking customers into paying for fake holidays and Take That tickets to a sold out Wembley gig.
Symon Webb, 46, made £65,000 from customers he tricked into paying for concerts and holidays at his travel agency and then failed to deliver, the Daily Mail reported. Webb made £36,109 from the tickets alone, Norwich Crown Court heard.
Webb, who traded as Lowestoft Travel from June 2009, was jailed for 16 months and banned from being a director for seven years having admitted fraudulent trading.
Take That fans only discovered they had been conned when their coach didn’t arrive. David Wilson, prosecuting, said: “The concerts went ahead, but for the customers due to travel via Lowestoft Travel they were to be disappointed.
“Many customers were left standing in vain for coaches which did not arrive.
“Had such tickets existed then of course irrespective of the absence of coach travel, the customers would still have had the concert tickets available to them.
“The absence of provision of such tickets indicates that no such tickets ever existed.”
The scam started to unravel when Webb and two others were arrested in Dover, Kent, in 2010 for drug smuggling. Webb was jailed in March 2011 for trying to import cannabis to the value of £68,000.
Wilson added: “His arrest appears to have been a trigger for further acts of a dishonest nature with Lowestoft Travel.”
Holidaymakers who had paid Webb to go to Spain were due to leave on March 18, 2011, but found the hotel had not been booked and the cost of just the accommodation alone topped what they had been charged.
On March 16, 2011, Lowestoft Travel stopped operating. Webb lied that customer deposits were protected, Wilson said.
“Had a bond in reality existed then customers would have had the opportunity of refunds on purchases for trips and excursions they had paid for,” he added.
Judge Coleman said: “It was a series of dishonest acts and it took place over a long period of time and there was a significant loss in excess of £60,000.
“All those disappointed people must even now be cursing under their breath for what you did. One can forgive them that feeling.”
Claire Davies, defending, said Webb had run a successful business but as he got into debt he struggled to keep going.
She said: “He would wish to compensate people but at the moment he cannot do so.”
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