Hove fraudster jailed for ruining hundreds of holidays with villa scam

Posted On 15 Feb 2011 at 6:20 pm

A couple from Hove used phantom holiday homes to con more than £200,000 from more than 300 victims.

Their scam ruined weddings, honeymoons and family holidays.

Carlo Bulley, 38, who lived in Brunswick Place, Hove, until last May, has been jailed for four years for fraud.

Wood Green Crown Court, in North London, was told that Bulley and his girlfriend Jaana Kettunen, also 38, took 116 bookings for phantom holiday villas from 2006 to September 2010.

Many of their victims were left stranded abroad with nowhere to stay and a week or more before their return flights home.

The court was told that their scam ruined holidays and caused distress and financial loss to more than 300 people from at least 20 countries.

Jailed fraudster Carlo Bulley

Bulley pleaded guilty to using websites to place fraudulent adverts for luxury holiday lets in Britain and Europe.

He took money by bank transfer or through PayPal from his victims with help from Kettunen, also formerly of Brunswick Place, Hove.

Detective Constable Tracey Dixon, from Brighton CID, became aware of the scam in May last year.

The Sussex Police detective began a joint investigation with Detective Constable Tommy Dodds, from the Metropolitan Police, who had also received complaints from victims.

DC Dixon said: “This has been a complicated and involved investigation into a prolific fraudster.

“Justice has been done for the many victims of Bulley, some of whom have been waiting years to see him receive a deservedly long jail term.

“Bulley communicated with his victims, including honeymooners, wedding parties, families with children and pregnant women, right up to the point of their holiday departure.

“He was fully aware of  each of the victims’ circumstances and still he allowed them to travel, knowing that he would be leaving them stranded abroad, often at the height of the season, distressed and out of pocket.

“The accounts from the victims in this case show what an appalling situation Bulley had created by his own greed and deceit.

“DC Dodds and I had sympathy with the situations that the victims had found themselves in.

“We joined forces and, with the help of Sussex Police financial investigator Ed Taylor, began work to track Bulley down and stop these cruel frauds.

“We were on his trail for four months.

“During that time he continued to commit further offences using various different names, websites and bank accounts.”

Officers caught Bulley in September. He was using a false identity and tried in vain to convince police that they were mistaken.

He was arrested in Cardiff and brought back to Sussex for interview, charged and remanded for money laundering and fraud offences.

In jailing Bulley for four years, Judge Patrick said that this was a large-scale fraud and that Bulley’s actions were both deliberate and persistent.

Judge James Patrick said that Bulley had gone to considerable lengths to convince holidaymakers that the villas were real and suitable for their needs.

Calculated dishonesty

He continued his offending with the full knowledge that his girlfriend Kettunen and both of his elderly parents had been arrested and faced prosecution.

This was calculated dishonesty targeting a large number of victims who had saved, and saved hard, for their holidays and were left out of pocket, the judge said.

Bulley’s crimes blighted the lives of dozens and effectively corrupted his girlfriend and also had the effect of undermining confidence in genuine businesses.

Kettunen was arrested in Hove and charged in London in May last year.

She pleaded guilty to money laundering the proceeds of the fraud when she appeared before Wood Green Crown Court in November and was remanded in custody.

Having already served the equivalent of a one-year prison sentence while on remand, she was given a community order and is required to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Bulley has been made subject of a financial reporting order for the next ten years in the light of the risk of other offences being committed.

The pair will be the subject of confiscation and compensation hearings in February next year.

  1. david tallens Reply

    Nice to see the Police take this kind of crime eriously, really, really well done Constables and financial investigators with this one, you’ve no doubt performed an eroneous and thankless task in terms of your employers but the people you have helped to get justice will be indebted to you for the rest of their lives, I really dont believe 4 yrs justifies the impact this selfish, sick and twisted criminal had on good decent hard working and hard saving people’s lives. Well done again officers and financial investigators…

  2. david tallens Reply

    Nice to see the Police take this kind of crime seriously, really, really well done Constables and financial investigators with this one, you’ve no doubt performed an eroneous and thankless task in terms of your employers but the people you have helped to get justice will be indebted to you for the rest of their lives, I really dont believe 4 yrs justifies the impact this selfish, sick and twisted criminal had on good decent hard working and hard saving people’s lives. Well done again officers and financial investigators…

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