A conman who targeted several horse owners — some through advertising via H&H — has been jailed for two years.

Joseph Fox, 29, of Sedgehill, near Shaftesbury, Dorset, was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court on 26 July.

He pleaded guilty to 22 counts of fraud, from which he amassed £40,000 overall. He was also banned from being a company director for 5 years.

The prosecution said he had “presented himself as a successful businessman who ran a large number of companies”, but these “in fact had little or no value”.

During an 18-month period starting in 2010, he said Fox “promised to deliver services that never appeared and cheques that bounced”.

In 2 cases, horse owners bought manèges from Fox after seeing adverts in H&H. But nothing was constructed and they were not refunded.

Fox also ran a muck disposal scam, reported by H&H last year, after police warned readers to be wary of cut-price services (news, 21 June 2012).

Several yard owners paid for a skip to remove their equestrian waste that never arrived. One victim paid £600 plus VAT for a year’s hire and removal. But the skip didn’t materialise and the cheque to reimburse the cost bounced.

Fox has previous convictions and was imprisoned in 2009.

His defence said Fox “was not a man who set out at the onset of his career to con people and make money. He is just a hopeless businessman and a hopeless optimist.”

But Judge Cutler said he was “living a life of dishonesty”.

He added: “Other people have lost so much as a result of your actions. These offences undermine the sense of trust in the business community. Members of the public deserve to be protected from you.”

DS John Armstrong of Wiltshire Police said of the case: “There was no honesty at all in his business plan. I hope this is a lesson to him and to us all — if it seems too good to be true it probably is.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (1 August 2013)