A fraudster posing as an expert antiques dealer has made off with more than a hundred belongings from a deceased mother which he then whipped onto eBay. Con man Peter Taylor was jailed on March 31 for defrauding pensioners of assets worth thousands of pounds, Helen Ford, the grieving daughter trying to clean up some of her mother’s belongings, being only one of his many victims.
Taylor toured homes in Chelsea and Fulham under the guise of being an antiques dealer, before earning the trust of his vulnerable customers and selling their antiques online instead, racking up all the profits. He was found guilty of 11 counts of fraud by false representation following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court, including the case against Helen, and was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for his crimes .
The 61-year-old man from Twickenham scammed his victims out of a total of £255,000 between March 2016 and January 2019, the court heard, along with valuables such as artwork, carpets, jewelry, furniture and kitchen utensils.
Helen met Taylor in 2017 at a time when she was grieving, just a month and a half after her mother, Sheila Wakeling has passed away. She told MyLondon how she struggled to clean up her mother’s Chelsea property which was filled with a lifetime’s possessions.
READ MORE: Fraudster swindled vulnerable west London pensioners out of £267,000 antiques before flogging them on eBay
She says: “[My] m another had Alzheimer’s and she was a hoarder, so as you can imagine there was a lot of extra stuff in the house that shouldn’t have been there. Helen was recommended by supposed antique dealer Taylor, who quickly came to the house to see if there was anything that could be auctioned off.
Helen’s mother had a house full of items that needed to be sorted, and it was hoped some could be sold and a portion of the sales would go to the charity she supported. Helena said: “[The items] had a lot of sentimental value but I couldn’t keep them just because we didn’t have room for large items.
Helen recalls the day she met Taylor, saying he came to the house to collect the items to be appraised. She said: “We contacted him, he came to the house, he looked around and said ‘yes, we will clear the house, we will take our commission on what we sell things for, we sell what we can and whatever the rest will go to local conveniences or charity shops”. We agreed on an appointment. He came back with a van and two men and started cleaning up. Something in the back of my mind told me, that’s not quite it.”
She claims she noticed some strange comments that had been made and became concerned about some items she told him about while he was packing and which he later claimed not to have seen. Helen claims that Taylor then took off with most of her mother’s items, with, as she believed, the intention of valuing them and returning to her.
Time began to pass and Helen claims that she had not heard from Taylor regarding the evaluation of her articles. She said: “Two weeks later we haven’t heard anything. Four weeks later we haven’t heard anything.” Over time, the supposed antique dealer still did not give her any useful response, she said. After some time without communication, she says she tried to get her items back, but it was not possible. either. Finally, she claims that all communications have been cut off.
That’s when Helen says she discovered the true extent of the scam she fell victim to, when she was browsing eBay and discovered her mother’s stuff was being sold on the site by Taylor. She said, “I found [my mother’s] Wedgwood tea service on the website of his shop. Once I found the Wedgwood, I then scrolled down and found a whole page of my mother’s stuff.
When she realized what had happened, she was “devastated”. She said: “Because basically I sat and watched my childhood come out, with someone I trusted to take them and appraise them on my behalf and then sell them if we We agreed on a price, and He had no intention of giving me a price for my goods, he just acted like it was his.
Helen confronted Taylor about the lists, but she claims he denied it and suggested they came from somewhere else. Luckily for Helen, her mother kept many of her receipts throughout her life. She said: “Fo Unfortunately for me, my mom was a hoarder and she kept the receipts years ago.
She responded by turning herself in to police who initially told her it was a civil matter, and also took to social media to leave negative reviews explaining what happened. She recalls: “I then put a bad review about him on Yell.com and was contacted by two other people who said ‘we’ve had bad experiences with him too’. I put a bad comment on his Facebook page and I found more people who had a bad experience.We found out that there were 19 victims in all we knew.14 of us were ready to go to court. Others managed to get their goods back by going to where his warehouse was and claiming their goods.
She said: “I was lucky that my mum was a photography enthusiast. Any excuse, her camera was out. And I went through about 15,000 photographs to get some stuff where she took photos of someone, but the items he took are in the background so I could show the police that they were mine.
After all 14 cases were brought against him, he was eventually convicted of 11 counts of fraud. He was sentenced on March 31 to five and a half years of hail for his crimes. Judge Sarah Paneth said he had “exploited the vulnerabilities” of his many victims for his own financial gain.
Overall, Helen estimates that the value of all the items taken is worth a total of £12,000-13,000. She revealed: “It was basically a full house. If you think of a house, with three floors and three bedrooms. I recovered eight articles. [While he took] well over a hundred [items].”
She continued: “A lot of nationals have chosen [the story] and what bothered me the most was that they made a big deal out of it as wealthy pensioners living in affluent London. The house my mother lived in was rented, she had lived there since the 1960s – that part of Chelsea was not what it is today in the 1960s and 1970s. It was the bad side of Chelsea. […] And far from being a wealthy pensioner my mum worked until she was 82 what she had in the house yes some of it was worth maybe £100 but those were things that she had accumulated over time or inherited from friends. You don’t work until you’re 82 if you can walk around doing nothing. “
She added: “It was more than that to go towards my retirement because the retirement I have is not very good.” But it’s not just the financial impact of the fraud that has had a devastating effect on Helen and her family.
Helen said: “It caused a lot of problems within the family. You don’t realize when you’re grieving what you’re doing, you think you’re doing the right thing. [Taylor] knew [we were grieving]because we told him why we needed to empty the house.” She added: ‘You can be quite depressed about it’
In her emotional impact statement on the victim, Helen said: ‘I have already lost my mother twice, once to Alzheimer’s and once to death. His actions had caused this for the third time. I haven’t slept well since we realized he never intended to sell these items on our behalf.
“I constantly think about how I let my mum down, it was one of the last things she confided in me and it’s something I will never get over. I woke up and saw my childhood being taken away from this house thinking of the good I was doing with the product.
After more than 100 items were removed from her mother’s house, Helen claims she only managed to recover eight items. The court heard that between March 2016 and February 2019, Taylor managed to swindle treasure worth £267,000 from his multiple victims, many of whom have never been found.
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