ONE of the victims of a fraudster has spoken of his relief that justice has finally caught up with the conman after a seven-year police investigation.
Self-styled debt guru Matt James was jailed for three years at Exeter Crown Court last month for bullying desperate customers into re-mortgaging their homes and stealing the money.
The court heard how he was living the high life in Spain and running his business from a PO box in Ottery St Mary while his victims found themselves even deeper in debt and had their homes repossessed.
James ran a series of companies with similar names which lured desperately indebted customers through adverts on the internet and in Yellow Pages and fleeced them out of £185,000.
He offered to negotiate on behalf of clients to reduce their repayments so they could re-mortgage their homes, release the equity, and clear their liabilities.
Instead he simply transferred the cash into his own account.
Devon & Cornwall Police said they believe there may be several more victims of James's con and urged them to come forward. After his sentencing, one of his victims expressed his relief at seeing him finally caught.
Alan Lovett, 62, told the Echo: "I had been having a few problems and found this company. After speaking to a few he seemed to be the most friendly option and he suggested re-mortgaging my property which I did to raise surplus cash he said he would use to pay off my creditor.
"He walked away with just over £26,000 in 2007. I became suspicious a few months later that something was not right as the creditors were still ringing me and I couldn't get hold of Mr Crossley (James's alias).
"After several attempts to ring him, I reported him to the police. I also hired a private investigator to try and find him and then got a High Court writ. But by the time I got the bailiffs around he had moved on again.
"I lost track of him ever since apart from reading the odd update about him on the internet.
"His actions left me in severe financial trouble. I was hoping that the £26,000 would clear a large percentage of the debt I had and I would be debt-free by now. As it stands I had to rearrange payments with my creditors – some of which is still on-going several years later. I had anticipated being debt free by now. But I still have a mortgage and am still paying debts."