'He was an absolute conman': Shrewsbury victim welcomes jail term for £80,000 fraudster
A Shrewsbury victim of a conman who scammed firms out of £80,000 has spoken of her relief after he was jailed for 40 months.
Alison Wright, of Shrewsbury-based Starfish Advertising, was fleeced of £2,400 by Alan Weston, from Thorpe Astley, Leicester, when she ordered branded seat covers from his fraudulent company Promoprods Ltd.
Leicester Crown Court heard this week how 33-year-old Weston lied to customers, telling some he had a brain cyst or that members of his family were dying, when challenged as to where the goods they ordered were.
Ms Wright, who has run her advertising and marketing agency for 16 years, had ordered the goods from Weston, who claimed on his website that he was the largest supplier of promotional material in the UK, in 2011 and when they failed to arrive questioned whether they had been ordered.
She was told by Weston that they had been lost in the warehouse in China and was offered the chance to reorder. Once again, they failed to arrive and Weston said he had been in hospital with a bleed on the brain.
Sensing that something was not right she contacted Leicester City Council's Trading Standards team.
And more than six years later she has finally seen the man jailed for fraud.
Weston pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulent trading in respect of two companies he ran between December 2011 and August 2015 – Promoprods Ltd and 8th Wonder Merchandise Ltd – which both sold branded promotional products such as a USB sticks, pens and water bottles.
Ms Wright said: "It was galling, he was an absolute conman.
"We paid him the money and then he failed to provide the goods. We contacted Trading Standards and then heard nothing. Then they got in touch and said they had a lot of other companies with the same experiences."
The court heard that Weston ordered and received goods from suppliers but never paid them, took advance payment from customers for goods which he failed to supply, and offered free gifts to entice people to order goods, but did not supply them.
In all, 24 businesses - one of which went bust - made complaints to Leicester City Council’s Trading Standards team as part of its investigations.
"It was never going to de-stabilise us," said Ms Wright. "But it was galling to work so hard and then someone feels it is OK to steal money from you."
Weston was also banned from being a director for eight years.
A separate hearing is due to take place next year to set out confiscating the proceeds from Weston’s fraudulent activities.