Date Published 21 May 2012
Notorious property fraudster David Watmuff has been jailed for three and a half years after stealing from his own mother.
He was sentenced at Newcastle in the name of David Kelso.
He fleeced his 85-year-old mother of over £32,000 shortly after she was widowed. She told the court that she was heartbroken.
He had told his mother that he liked the way she wrote her signature, and asked her to show him how. When he was arrested, his mother’s cards and other banking documents were found in his briefcase, together with a note containing the pin numbers.
When his mother searched her son’s belongings, she found cheque books and a debit card belonging to her late husband.
He was also sent down after admitting a second charge concerning a fraudulent CV which caused a £20,000 loss to the company. He told the firm that he had a PhD, not that he had been in prison for a previous con.
EAT has repeatedly warned about Watmuff over a number of years.
He was behind a scam involving the Prince of Wales’ village, Poundbury, when he siphoned off cash, and was subsequently jailed for seven years. At that trial, where he was charged under the name of David Watmuff, he was branded a ‘Walter Mitty’ – exactly the same phrase used at last week’s sentencing of David Kelso at Newcastle.
In the Poundbury case, Watmuff admitted 15 counts of deception, 11 thefts from off-the-shelf companies, and acting as director when disqualified and deception. He also asked for 88 other offences to be taken into consideration.
After release, Watmuff subsequently appeared at various agents’ offices, including Bairstow Eves in Bath, where he gave the name of David Witchell. It is believed he also used the name Watmill.
Typically, he would pretend to be acting for wealthy clients who wanted to acquire property, although at one stage it is understood he was trying to buy an expensive estate for himself, claiming to be a buyer with extensive funds. In that instance, EAT sent a specific warning to the agents concerned. We also had subsequent cause to warn the agents acting for a property in Scotland.
In the autumn of 2010, Watmuff was jailed again for frauds involving an estate in Oxfordshire. He was released in early 2011, shortly before the death of his father.
Although his latest sentence is for three and a half years, Watmuff spent time awaiting sentencing in custody and pleaded guilty to both charges. It is therefore likely he will be at large again within months.
Agents should note that he is tall, charming, well-spoken and utterly plausible. He has spread his operations over the country, from