‘Walter Mitty’ fraudster used £20,000 to book a trip to SPACE

Internet fraudster, 30, who with his brother conned victims out of hundreds of thousands for non-existent goods and blew some of the cash on booking a trip to SPACE is jailed for more than six years

  • Ross and Luke Quinn ran online companies selling spas, furniture and log cabins
  • Pair, from Coxhoe, County Durham, ripped customers off across the country
  • Rented £1m property and bought seven cars including three Jaguar S-types
  • Ross, who was driving force, used £20k to book Virgin Galactic trip to space

A judge has blasted an internet fraudster as a ‘complete Walter Mitty’ after using some of the hundreds of thousands of pounds he conned out of victims to book a trip to space.

Ross Quinn and his brother Luke conned people across the country with their online companies selling spas, steam rooms, furniture, ride-on lawnmowers, log cabins and hand-driers.

The majority of their customers never received what they paid for and were not given refunds, Teesside Crown Court heard.   

Judge Sean Morris jailed Ross Quinn for six and a half years and banned him from being a company director for 13 years and three months, and Luke Quinn was sentenced to four years in jail with a director disqualification of nine years.

Ross Quinn’s barrister, Andrew Rutter, told the court: ‘He is obsessed with being successful, and his wish is to be held in high regard.

‘He met Richard Branson and he put £20,000 down so he could be one of the first people to go to the moon. That’s how high his ambitions were.’


Ross Quinn (left) and his brother Luke (right) conned people across the country with their online companies selling spas, steam rooms, furniture, ride-on lawnmowers, log cabins and hand-driers. Ross was jailed for six-and-a-half years, with Luke jailed for four years

Ross Quinn, pictured here aged 18, registered six online retailers – four of which were involved in fraudulent trading – but paid little or no tax for them and evaded £333,000

The cash was placed with the Virgin Galactic company as a deposit to become part of the elite group who could boast of being the world’s first space tourists when the commercial flights take off.

Judge Morris told them: ‘You were both quite prepared to rip off the public. It is not the most lavish lifestyle you were living as a consequence. I have seen a lot worse.

‘But it was good enough for you, Ross Quinn, to pay £20,000 to Mr Branson to try to be one of the first people on a tourists jolly into outer-space. I regard you as a complete Walter Mitty, and a dangerous one at that.’

Brazen Quinn spoke to his local paper when he booked the flight, saying he’d always wanted to be Buzz Lightyear.

Quinn said: ‘I find space irresistible. Films like Armageddon make me want to be there and do that. I wanted to be Buzz Lightyear and when I heard I could go into space with Virgin, I had to do it.

‘When I signed up in New York, I shook hands with Richard Branson and met the astronaut Buzz Aldrin who’s actually stood on the moon.’

In a letter to the judge, Ross Quinn, 30, said he was the driving force behind the fraud and his 27-year-old brother was ‘in his thrall’. 

In a letter to the judge, Ross Quinn, pictured here aged 18, said he was the driving force behind the fraud and his 27-year-old brother was ‘in his thrall’

The court heard Ross Quinn registered six online retailers – four of which were involved in fraudulent trading – but paid little or no tax for them and evaded £333,000. 

Luke Quinn’s only company, Red Saunas Ltd, dodged £62,000 in tax and the fraud amounted to £530,000, Teesside Crown Court was told. 

While the pair were raking in money, they rented a £1million property on the exclusive Wynyard estate in Teesside, at £2,500 a month, and ‘a handsome detached family home’ set in 1.8 acres in Wolsingham in the County Durham dales. 

They bought three Jaguar S-types, a BMW 316, a Range Rover, a Mercedes C180 Classic and a Volkswagen Golf, and Ross Quinn spent £118,000 gambling with money direct from the accounts of two of his companies.

The brothers gave ridiculous excuses to people who complained their goods had not turned up. 

One couple were even told that their hot tub was delayed because the sea in China had frozen over and could not be shipped to the UK. 

Other victims included an organ donor charity, a golf club in the Scottish Borders and a hotelier as well as hundreds of individuals and Worldpay – which lost £405,000 alone. 

The merchant payment company was used by many of the Quinns’ customers, and they refunded those who had been duped by the brothers. 

Jailing the brothers, both of Coxhoe, County Durham, Judge Morris told them: ‘Both of you are internet fraudsters. 

‘Society is increasingly turning to the internet as a market place to buy and sell goods, so the probity of those who trade online is of the utmost importance. 

Ross Quinn met Richard Branson (pictured) and paid £20,000 as a deposit to become part of the elite group that will become the world’s first space tourists when commercial flights take off

‘The news is full every day of the shortage of money for hospitals, defence and the courts, and those who evade their tax are responsible for operations not taking place, for people not being cared for properly and the lack of police on the streets. 

‘It is no laughing matter, revenue fraud. It is a fraud against every decent citizen and the vulnerable.’ 

The judge added: ‘You are a couple of defendants who ran this case right up to the wire and that was stupid of you. The evidence, from what I can see, was overwhelming.

‘You should have pleaded guilty straightaway, and the sentence you would have received would have been one-third less than you are going to get now. 

‘The courts have no sympathy for those who run their case right up to the wire because it means these courts are stacked out with allegations of rape, child abuse, murder, all with victims, all having to wait to give evidence, terrified, traumatised, waiting for a slot for their trial to take place while people like you, by pleading not guilty, are clogging up the system.’ 

The pair admitted charges of fraudulent trading and tax evasion after their trial had started and two witnesses had given evidence – and after legal discussions resulted in charges being dropped against their sister Lucy.  

Judge Morris told Luke Quinn: ‘I think you are somewhat star-struck by what you thought was a glittering and successful older brother. Well, you were wrong in that.’ 

Both defence barristers said the death of the brothers’ mother in their childhood had an impact on their personality and behaviour, with Ross Quinn having regular counselling and treatment to cope with the loss. 

Source: Read Full Article