'Brazen fraud': Trading standards team welcome rogue travel agent's jailing

Trading standards officers have welcomed the sentence given to a travel agent who carried out "brazen fraud" against elderly customers.

Tony Taylor's TT Tours unit at Bilston Market is seized by trading standards after not showing up to return money to angry customers
Tony Taylor's TT Tours unit at Bilston Market is seized by trading standards after not showing up to return money to angry customers

The Wolverhampton council team set up a stall in Bilston Town Hall to collect complaints from Anthony Taylor’s victims as an investigation into his actions was launched after his TT Tours business ceased trading.

The 57-year-old, from Willenhall, was jailed for four years for fraudulent trading after 300 would-be holidaymakers were left stranded in the cold waiting for coaches which never arrived on February 17 last year.

Taylor spent the £65,985 handed to him on to fund a lavish lifestyle including trips to five-star London hotels, shopping trips to Ikea and jewellers H. Samuel, gambling, restaurants and payments to a girlfriend.

The advert for the Torquay trip. Image: Facebook

Wolverhampton's city environment boss Councillor Steve Evans said: “Taylor has been sent to prison and justice has been done for the hundreds of mainly vulnerable, elderly victims who he conned out of their money, left stranded and with no holiday.

“This was a brazen fraud on a large scale from somebody who clearly is without morals and is clearly not fit to run a business.

“It will have added insult to injury to his victims that Taylor used their money to pay for his own luxury holidays in five-star London hotels.

“With so many victims, this was a huge case for our trading standards team to investigate and I want to pay tribute to their diligence and hard work in successfully bringing this matter to court, especially during a pandemic.”

Angry customers were at Bilston Town Hall to get advice from trading standards officers after their trip to Torquay never happened

Taylor targeted mainly elderly customers by sending an "unwitting" assistant - who has not been charged with any offence - to visit senior citizens' clubs to promote a five-day coach holiday to Torquay which included travel, hotel, five-course evening meal, free evening bar and excursions for £99.

The court accepted that the woman was an honest victim who acted in good faith after also being tricked by Taylor and was completely innocent of any wrongdoing.

In sentencing Taylor on Friday, Judge Mr Recorder Marc Brown described the offences as “a prolonged and despicable deception of vulnerable elderly people, depriving them of what little money they had, whilst raising their hopes and ultimately leaving them out of pocket and disappointed as they received nothing in return”.

He said that the case was so serious, involving the “systematic defrauding of a large number of vulnerable victims” that only a custodial sentence could be justified.

Taylor, of Mount Road, Portobello, Willenhall, was jailed for four years after being given credit for his early guilty plea. He must serve half the term before being released on licence.

He was also banned from being a company director for 10 years for his actions.

The case against Taylor, who had previous convictions for similar offences, was brought by the council's trading standards team.

A proceeds of crime hearing will take place next year.

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