201705.31

Shopping on the Internet? Can You Trust Who You Are Dealing With?

Great care is needed when shopping for goods and services on the Internet and it is worth having the credentials of those you deal with professionally checked. In one case that strikingly made that point, a woman who ran a bogus online catering business succeeded in defrauding more than 700 victims of over £100,000.

WeddingThe woman accepted payments for catering services, primarily for weddings but also for birthdays and funerals, that did not materialise. Hundreds of her clients were left disappointed after she fobbed them off with various excuses, including that she had been burgled or had been the victim of an arson attack.

Her victims were only partially compensated by a website through which they booked her services and she ultimately admitted three counts of fraud. She was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and her husband, who admitted having helped her to launder the proceeds of her crimes, received a nine-month sentence.

The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal rejected arguments that the woman’s sentence should be reduced in the light of her childcare responsibilities. The Court noted that some of her victims were vulnerable and she had shown no sympathy for those whose celebrations she had ruined.

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