A dodgy fish salesman who preyed on vulnerable pensioners defrauded his elderly victims out of more than £100,000.
John Mills was jailed for 40 months at Teesside Crown Court on Friday.
Between 2017 and 2019, the 50-year-old repeatedly used aggressive, unfair and dishonest selling practices to force customers to buy large quantities of unwanted fish that was often unfit for human consumption.
The mobile fish seller used his high-pressure sales techniques to dump bags of seafood on elderly customers' tables, Teesside Live reports.
Prosecutor Cameron Crowe outlined that the trader had been involved in the industry for over a decade.
He operated nationwide, but predominately in the North-east and the Midlands.
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Mr Crowe told the court how the dodgy salesman cold-called elderly people and charged exorbitant prices for far more produce than they wanted.
Figures showed 70% of Mills' victims were aged over 60, and 20% were over 80.
More than 80 victims provided witness statements, many with serious health conditions including obvious dementia.
The victims described how Mills forced his way into their homes without permission and left them feeling "cheated, shamed, and stupid".
On one occasion, Mills intimidated a 72-year-old widow into paying £270 for fish she hadn't ordered.
The experience left her feeling "isolated and vulnerable" after he barged into her home while she was on the phone to her bereavement councillor.
Teesside Crown Court heard how victims felt threatened when they said they couldn't afford to pay or challenged the price.
Mills regularly changed the name of his company to avoid detection after complaints and traded under many variations including Ocean's Delight and Trawler's Delight.
The investigation into the dodgy salesman was led by the National Trading Standards North East Regional Investigations Team.
Analysis of various bank accounts and the card terminal used to process payments shows approximately £107,000 worth of fish sales during the three-year period, although it is likely that the actual figure was higher.
Before mitigation, Judge Jonathan Carroll said that the pre-sentence report showed that Mills "feel hard done by".
He added: "This man should be kept away from this industry for the rest of his life."
Robert Mochrie, mitigating, said that Mills did not start the business to commit fraud and it was not malicious from the outset.
"It was financial desperation which led to the wrong course of conduct," Mr Mochrie added.
Judge Jonathan Carroll described Mills as a "thoroughly dishonest man" and a "predatory bully".
He sentenced Mills to 40 months in prison and issued a criminal behaviour order that prohibits him indefinitely from selling products and making unsolicited calls at people's homes.
Lord Toby Harris, chair of National Trading Standards, said: "Duping and threatening vulnerable and elderly customers in their own home in order to make a sale is a despicable business practice.
"Many of the defendant's victims have been left feeling distressed and vulnerable by this experience as well as facing significant financial loss.
"The defendant had a blatant disregard for the quality of the fish he was supplying and the safety and welfare of his customers.
"It is only right that he now faces the consequences of his fraudulent actions.
"If you or someone you know, has fallen victim to a fraud like this you should report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline by calling 0808 223 1133.".
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