A pensioner who conned elderly caravanners out of nearly £350,000 to prop up her failing business has been jailed for 12 months, the Daily Record reports.
Christine Galloway left numerous victims thousands of pounds out of pocket by selling on their vans and keeping the cash.
Sheriff Alistair Carmichael said: “You pled guilty to a serious offence in which you obtained almost £350,000 by fraud over a 21-month period.
“Several victims of the fraud were elderly people who had put their trust in you to act honestly.
“Your business at one time was well-run and respected.
“This consisted of multiple individual frauds over 21 months and your actions were deliberate, calculated and organised.
“To adequately express society’s disapproval and to punish you and deter others there is no alternative but a custodial sentence.
“I will take into account your age, the remorse you’ve shown and your lack of previous convictions.”
Paramedics Robert and Carol Moore handed their van to Galloway in 2018 and had never seen their retirement nest egg since.
Robert and Carol, both 66, agreed to sell their van to Galloway for £32,000 but realised something was wrong when they saw comments on the company’s Facebook page about it going out of business.
It was sold for £27,250 but they never saw the cash.
The couple had invested their pension funds in the Peugeot Boxer and were relying on the sale to help fund a dream trip to Canada – which instead left them in debt.
Galloway was using the money she made from the sales to prop up her failing business and failed to hand the sale money back to her victims.
Galloway had initially been charged with ripping off more than £750,000 from customers, by selling on 26 motorhomes and 11 caravans without passing on the money.
However, the Crown accepted her guilty plea to fraudulently obtaining the lesser amount of £347,450 from a dozen mainly elderly clients between 2016 and 2018
Fiscal depute Stewart Duncan told Dundee Sheriff Court that Galloway, formerly of Pitscottie, Cupar, was the owner of St Andrews Motorhomes at the time.
Mr Duncan said: “St Andrews Motorhomes was a well-established business operating in north-east Fife for about 30 years.
“They bought and sold used motorhomes and caravans.
“They would offer to either buy the vehicle or caravan outright for a price or would offer to sell it by means of a brokerage agreement for a higher price guaranteed to the owner.
“Upon signing the agreement, the vehicle, keys and all documentation was entrusted to St Andrews Motorhomes in order for them to sell on their behalf.
“The brokerage agreement offered a guaranteed sale price, which was typically higher than that currently being asked by the seller, with the seller receiving their payment 30 days after the sale.”
James Graham, who was 75 but has since passed away, met Galloway in September 2016 and she agreed to sell his motorhome for £53,000.
It was sold, but he never received a penny.
Regular customer William Nicoll, 88, handed over his motorhome to be sold for £29,000. No payment was made to him and it was subsequently uncovered that Galloway had sold it for £24,000.
In December 2017, Thomas McCotter, 53, agreed that Galloway should take possession of his motorhome and sell it for a guaranteed £33,000.
He heard nothing more for several months.
He turned up in May to demand his cash and was given a cheque for £33,000 which did not clear with the bank.
It later emerged it had been sold for just £27,000.
Alistair Falconer reached an agreement to sell his motorhome for £36,000, but he was told for several weeks that, despite considerable interest, the vehicle had not sold.
However, Mr Falconer then received notification from DVLA that he was no longer the owner – and when he pressed Galloway she gave him a cheque which bounced.
She subsequently gave him £18,000 due to a “cash flow problem” and promised the rest would follow, but only half o the agreed price was ever paid to Mr Falconer.
Galloway had sold his vehicle for £30,000.
Joy Malcolm, 79, saw positive reviews for the company in January 2018 and agreed to sell her motorhome for £21,000. It was sold for £18,000, but she was not paid anything.
William Urquhart, 86, agreed to sell his motorhome for £34,000, but he lost out when it was sold for £30,000 shortly before Galloway’s company went into liquidation.
Robert Moore, 66, agreed to sell for £32,000, but realised something was wrong when he saw comments on the company’s Facebook page about it going out of business.
His motorhome had been sold for £27,250.
Due to ill-health, William Cairns, 77, decided to sell his caravan for £20,050 in March 2018.
The caravan was sold but no payment was ever made to the pensioner. Galloway stalled for several months after selling on John Henderson’s motorhome for the agreed £31,000.
The company went into liquidation before he could be paid.
Michael Brown, 76, agreed to sell his motorhome for £16,000 but Galloway ignored his requests for any update or payment, despite selling his vehicle for £17,000.
In March 2018, Robert Tod, 70, agreed to sell for £38,200 and only discovered the vehicle had been sold on by Galloway when the DVLA told him he was no longer the owner.
His vehicle had been sold for just £32,000.
Richard Llewelyn, 48, agreed to sell for £22,500 in October 2017.
Mr Duncan said: “On 20 May 2018 his wife and daughter were travelling on the M8 around Livingston, when they spotted said caravan on the same carriageway ahead of them.
“His daughter took a photograph and sent it to her father.
“Mr Llewelyn emailed St Andrews Motorhomes asking them if there had been any update.
“No update came. The accused then indicated there was a sale in progress.
“At no point did the accused indicate the vehicle had already been sold.”
After the company went into liquidation, Mr Llewelyn discovered that his motorhome had been sold to another dealer for £19,000 in November 2017.