Eastbourne Herald – A businessman has pleaded guilty to conning thousands of pounds from people after promising them he would book flights and holidays but using their cash to prop up his shop.
A court heard how a handful of people were left out of pocket by the year-long fraud committed by Michael Ellis-Williams, former owner of Michael’s, a glass merchant in Eastbourne’s Enterprise Centre.
The 59-year-old took money from people telling them he would book cheap flights and holidays for them.
But instead of doing so, he spent the cash on stock for his shop and his victims went on to find their holidays and flights had not been booked.
Ellis-Williams, of Maxfield Close, Eastbourne, admitted 13 charges of fraud at Hastings Magistrates’ Court when he appeared there on Wednesday January 7 and will be sentenced by a judge at the Crown Court in February.
He admitted taking £2,225 for a holiday from Martin Faithfull, £3,358 for a holiday from John O’Neill, £5,690 for a holiday from John Heald, £2,660 for a holiday from Robert Newton, £1,880 from Christopher Wilson for a holiday, £1,279 from Denise Larkin for a holiday, almost £10,000 for a holiday from Cherry Payne, £5,550 from Mark Hampson for a holiday, £3,666 for a holiday from Roger Service, defrauding Eva Martin after obtaining flights and holidays from her and promising to pay but keeping customer’s money for himself and taking out an Amex credit card in his stepfather Stanley Williams’ name.
He faces a further charge of taking £100 from Robert Humphries for a Beswick Guernesey bull ornament but keeping the money for himself.
When customers discovered some of their holidays and flights had not been booked they took to social media and Twitter to track Ellis-Williams down.
A travel agent with the Twitter handle @evadeville said, “Hoping 2 use the power of social media! Wanted: Michael Ellis Williams of Eastbourne. Owns a glass shop & has defrauded me of £10,000 plz Rt.
A spokesperson for Sussex Police said, “Michael Ellis-Williams, a shop manager, pleaded guilty to 13 charges of fraud by false representation. He will be sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on February 6 and granted bail.”
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