'Walter Mitty' fraudster jailed

A SUFFOLK fraudster who claimed to be a multi-millionaire Hollywood producer is starting an 18-month jail term today.Richard Maskery lived in a “Walter Mitty-like fantasy world” and used his successful image to carry out a scam which netted him thousands of pounds.

A SUFFOLK fraudster who claimed to be a multi-millionaire Hollywood producer is starting an 18-month jail term today.

Richard Maskery lived in a “Walter Mitty-like fantasy world” and used his successful image to carry out a scam which netted him thousands of pounds.

Maskery, 37, of Westhorpe Road, Finningham, admitted six offences of dishonesty, including theft, three of obtaining money transfers by deception and two of evading a liability by deception.

Sentencing him at Ipswich Crown Court, deputy judge Gareth Davies said Maskery had left one Suffolk couple out of pocket after stealing a tractor from them and stringing them along one with promises to buy their £525,000 farmhouse.


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He had also tricked a builder out of more than £30,000 by conning him into putting money into a non-existent investment scheme. Another builder was left £35,000 out of pocket after renovating a stable block to house Maskery's non-existent fleet of expensive cars.

Matthew Gowen, prosecuting, said: “He lived in a fantasy world in which he gave himself the persona of a film producer and film financier.”

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In February 2004, Simon Betney and his wife Joanne had put their farmhouse at Brampton on the market and emigrated to New Zealand.

They arranged for their friend Matthew Jones to live at the property while a buyer was found and in June 2004 Maskery visited the farm and made an offer of £525,000 which was accepted.

Maskery persuaded Mr Jones, a builder, to live at the farm and carry out building work he had planned for the premises.

During discussions about work on the farm Maskery persuaded Mr Jones to invest £32,000 in a 12-week fast track scheme which he claimed would give him a guaranteed return of £128,000, but there was no scheme.

Meanwhile contracts were drawn up for the sale of the farm to Maskery but never exchanged.

Despite not owning the farm Maskery had arranged for Mark Calver from Calco Steel to carry out a £54,000 renovation project to convert a stable block into a garage for his fleet of cars.

After carrying out £35,000 work Mr Calver tried to get payment from Maskery but was given a cheque which bounced.

Mr and Mrs Betney's eventually sold their farm for £35,000 less than the original price because of changes Maskery made.

During police interview Maskery denied any wrongdoing and continued to maintain the persona of a film producer.

Miles Bennett, for Maskery, said his client was a “Walter Mitty” who needed help rather than a calculated fraudster.

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