A self-styled “Robin Hood” character went on a spending spree with a stranger’s credit card details after posing as a newspaper advertising rep.
Con artist Charles Rudd, 33, rang businessman Peter Cunningham offering him cheap advertising space in the Ripon Gazette and local trade magazine On Your Doorstep.
The fraudster told Mr Cunningham he wouldn’t place the ad until the businessman had approved the presentation, York Crown Court heard.
“He told Mr Cunningham he would need his credit-card details in the meantime,” said prosecutor Geraldine Kelly.
“Mr Cunningham was not suspicious (at this stage) and gave his credit card details over the phone. He was expecting an email from the defendant containing the advert for his approval, but the email didn’t arrive.”
In fact, Rudd was busy planning to splash vast sums using Mr Cunningham’s credit-card details.
Rudd went headfirst into his fraud frenzy believing himself to be some sort of Robin Hood-type crusader for the penniless. But instead he lived it up at some of the region’s finest establishments.
At the Royal Oak in Ripon, Rudd racked up a three-figure bill for food and accommodation. He stayed there with an unnamed woman but staff didn’t realise they had been defrauded until after he had left. The following day, he booked a table for himself and two other people at Mario’s Restaurant 27 in Ripon, spending £95.
In June 2015, Rudd telephoned The Brasserie in Harrogate using a false name to book a room for his fictional employee Charlie Barber.
A suspicious staff member asked for Rudd’s name, address and post code. He duly provided the details - for a funeral parlour in Leeds.
“The parlour told the (hotel) they hadn’t heard of a Charlie Barber, and that the details related to the mother of the woman who answered the phone at the funeral parlour,” said Ms Kelly.
Hotel staff called police and Rudd was arrested on arrival. He was released on bail, but the following month he booked himself into Rudding Park Hotel and Spa where he racked up a £477 unpaid bill during a three-night stay in the company of a man and woman. He was duly arrested again.
Ms Kelly said Rudd had previous convictions for fraud, shoplifting and burglary, and had served three prison sentences for offences dating back to 2001.
Barrister Katherine Stuckey, for Rudd, said the latest fraud spree happened at a time when the defendant’s drinking had “spiralled out of control”. His lifestyle could be partly explained by underlying mental-health issues, including possible bipolar disorder, she added.
Rudd admitted three counts of fraud and one of making off without payment.
Jailing Rudd for 15 months, Judge Guy Kearl QC told him: “You consider yourself to be some sort of Robin Hood figure, but you are nothing more than a common thief, a habitual fraudster intent on (satisfying) your own greed at the expense of others.