A couple who thought they were being made managers of a landmark York pub have instead been left homeless and have contacted national fraud investigators.
Tony Carson and his fiancée Sue Rimington spent weeks communicating by email with two men who said they were buying The Bay Horse in Marygate, and spent hundreds of pounds developing a new website for the pub, which has been closed since last May.
But the pub’s real owners, 2 Pubs Ltd, had never heard of the two men, or of Tony and Sue.
The couple, who had previously worked at The Inn on The Green in Acomb, are now homeless, living in council-run accommodation off Fulford Road.
They contacted North Yorkshire Police and have been referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which is looking into their complaint.
Out of pocket
Mr Carson said he and Mrs Rimington had wanted to leave The Inn on The Green, so posted an advert online, seeking pub work elsewhere.
He said: “Within a day, someone picked it up and got in touch and said they had some positions. We left The Inn on The Green on the premise of going to The Bay Horse, but that has not panned out.
“We went to live with my parents for a while but couldn’t do that forever. We’re in our 50s and are effectively homeless.”
In emails and Facebook messages over the course of two months, now seen by YorkMix, the two men talked of various plans for The Bay Horse, including renaming it.
They also claimed to own other venues in York, including a building in Coppergate which they said was to become a western-themed bar, with saloon-style doors and a rodeo machine.
Mr Carson was encouraged to design logos for the businesses, to build a website, develop menus and research business opportunities.
He has sent one of the men an invoice for £313 for website work he had carried out, but has not been paid.
Bay Horse sale fell through
2 Pubs Ltd agreed last year to sell the Bay Horse to gastropub firm Brunning & Price, but the buyers pulled out when their proposed alterations to the building were rejected by City of York Council planning officers.
A further announcement involving another operator is imminent.
A spokeswoman for Brunning & Price said: “We were excited to purchase this beautiful pub, however the planning application was refused.
“Despite several amends and attempts to modify the design, respecting both the historic nature of the building as well as the need to create a commercially viable operation, we were unable to provide something that the planning and conservation officers were happy to accept. For that reason, and with regret, we had to withdraw from the sale.”
‘I’ve lost everything’
Mrs Rimington, who has also been suffering from back injury, said:
We are in a dire situation and we do not want this to happen to anyone else, where people leave their job and there is nothing to go to.
I’ve lost everything, but I’m not going to lose my dignity and we will bounce back. There is fight in us yet, and we will carry on.
Mr Carson and Mrs Rimington suspect they would have been asked to pay a bond up front, which they would never have seen again.
When they became concerned about face-to-face meetings being repeatedly postponed, they researched the men’s background and found an old newspaper article reporting one of them was a convicted fraudster.
Mr Carson said: “They offered us what seemed a good job. I do not think of myself as particularly gullible but I think we have been had.”
Damion Todd, a director of 2 Pubs Ltd, said he was sad to hear someone had been wrongly claiming to represent the pub.
He said they had never heard of any of the people involved but said the company would soon be in a position to announce its own positive news about The Bay Horse.
YorkMix has emailed the man who claimed to be buying The Bay Horse, but has received no reply.