We set honeytrap to catch conman: Moment hoteliers confront scammer

We set up a honeytrap to catch the fugitive fruit-seller: Moment hotel owners confront career conman who scammed them for £10,000 after luring him for irresistible job offer

  • EXCLUSIVE: Mark Bullen accused of ‘organic’ fruit and veg  box scam 
  • He has since been arrested and has admitted to defrauding several hotels in UK
  • But he was almost caught much sooner after hotel owners confronted scammer
  • Have YOU had dealings with Mark Bullen? Email [email protected]

This is the moment hotel owners confronted a serial fraudster who scammed them out of more than £10,000 – but the police took so long to arrive that he managed to escape the law once more.

In the dramatic footage, convicted conman Mark Bullen, 51, stumbled into a honeytrap set up by furious business owners.

They lured him to a local restaurant on the premise of a job interview before approaching him and demanding their money back.

However, the smooth-talking con artist brazenly told them he would pay them their money back once he got a job.

Bullen is also suspected of a grift in which he sold ‘organic’ fruit and veg bought from Aldi and Tescos. At one point he was wanted by several police forces across England and Scotland and will now finally be put before a magistrates court next month. 

The Canterbury hotel owners confronted the fraudster after luring him to a fake job interview

Sandie de Rougemont (pictured) confronted Bullen along with other hotel owners

Bullen is also suspected of a grift in which he sold ‘organic’ fruit and veg bought from Aldi and Tescos

He has appeared on Crimewatch and was also convicted in 2005 for a previous scam for selling football shirts which he signed himself and then sold on eBay.

Mark Bullen’s life in scams

2000s: Bullen allegedly poses as a ‘psychic medium’ before conning grieving people out of their cash

2005: Bullen is caught selling fake signed football shirts in Dorset and sentenced to three months in jail

August 2018- September 2020: Bullen embarks on a Canterbury hotel crawl ‘racking up over £10,000 in debt at five hotels’

March 2022: Bullen narrowly avoids being arrested after falling into a honey trap in Canterbury 

March 2023:  Police catch on to the fraudster’s ‘Bullen’s Farm’ scheme in which he allegedly sells supermarket bought fruit veg as ‘organic produce’

September 2023: Bullen is arrested and admits to three offences of fraud by false representation relating to three hotel rooms which were not paid for in Cornwall, Norfolk and Kent

According to the Dorset Echo, he sold Manchester United strips using a bogus David Beckham signature and also forged boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s autograph.

There are even reports that he allegedly posed as a ‘psychic medium’ before conning grieving people out of their cash in the hope of speaking to their loved ones.

But on September 18, 2023, he was arrested and admitted to three offences of fraud by false representation relating to three hotel rooms which were not paid for in Cornwall, Norfolk and Kent between August 2018 and September 2020.

However, it has since been revealed that he was almost caught much earlier on March 1, 2022, but narrowly slipped through the police’s grasp.

Sandie de Rougemont is the owner of the House of Agnes, a boutique hotel in Canterbury.

She had an unfortunate run-in with the conman after he stayed at her establishment for several days and refused to pay – owing her £1,000.

Ms de Rougemont wasn’t the only unlucky hotelier and in Canterbury alone, he left the House of Agnes, Carena House, Coach House Hotel, Canterbury Hotel and Cathedral Gate Hotel out of pocket with a cumulative total of at least £10,000.

‘Essentially this started a number of years ago when he turned up to my hotel,’ Ms de Rougemont told Mail Online, ‘this was back in 2018.

‘He came in like a salesman of some sort. He was saying, “I’ve got this project and I’ve had meetings with some important people in Canada”.

‘I can’t remember his exact story. But he ended up staying with us for about eight days and every time my team approached him for payment he would say that he’d get his secretary to sort it out.

‘We started getting really suspicious of him, to be honest.’

He also made lame excuses for not paying up the dough, claiming that he had a death in the family

The boutique hotel has an ‘honesty bar’ which is left unattended and guests are trusted to leave payment.

But the fraudster helped himself to two bottles of champagne.

‘He took it as a gift for another businesswoman in Canterbury,’ Ms de Rougemont added, ‘who he had approached for some other business proposition, to try and soften her up a bit so she’d invest.

‘It was all just such a load of convoluted bullsh** that he was coming up with.

‘We put these things together and realised that this guy was out to get us.’

Pictured, the House of Agnes, a boutique hotel in Canterbury, that Mark Bullen stayed at and left without paying

The discount deal for fruit and vegetables seemed to good to be true, but that’s because it was and the ‘organic’ produce was actually bought from a supermarket

A website for Bullen’s bogus company called ‘Vegan Express’. He has used several business fronts

Bullen left without paying and disappeared for several years.

But he made a blunder and turned up again in 2022 for a job as a chef for the businesswoman he had approached earlier with the champagne, not knowing it was her.

READ MORE: Rotten to the core: The fugitive fruit-seller being hunted by three police forces after selling £100 organic gift boxes (filled with cheap Tesco goods)

The businesswoman immediately told Ms de Rougemont that Bullen had appeared for the job.

She put out a Facebook post warning other businesses of the conman and several other hotels had contacted her saying he had defrauded them for thousands of pounds.

Many of the hotel owners wanted to remain anonymous and didn’t even contact the police out of embarrassment for falling for the huckster’s tricks.

The local hoteliers who had been burned by Bullen then hatched a plan to confront and expose him.

Ms de Rougemont continued: ‘So what we decided to do was have him come in for an interview.

‘Then we would tell the police he was here and basically walk up and confront him.

‘Everything was set up perfectly. He arrived, we confronted him and he told us he would pay us back.

‘But, I mean, the guy is just a natural liar and a natural convolution just oozes out of his pores.

‘We tried to keep him there for as long as possible, to keep him talking for ages and ages, hoping the cops would turn up and see that this was the man they had been looking for.

‘And of course, the police didn’t arrive and we had to watch him walk out of the door.’

Because of the police’s lateness, Bullen escaped and carried remained at large for another 18 months.

He allegedly went on to pull off a scam selling his alleged ‘organic fruit and veg business’ claiming to sell produce from ‘Bullen’s Farm’.

Kent Police has confirmed that Bullen was arrested on September 18 and admitted to several counts of fraud

Mark Bullen has even preyed on vulnerable and disabled people, coming round to their houses to demand payment

Many of his victims have spoken about how they find it difficult to trust people any more.

Some of them include disabled people and others he ’employed’ to carry out his scam, who he would also refuse to pay.

‘It’s devastating,’ Ms de Rougemont said, ‘especially for one particular guy.

‘You know, it was really hard for him to see his revenue walk away like that and being powerless to do anything about it.

‘Other than the Hilton, we’re all independently owned hotels around here. It’s our bread and butter.

‘The guy is like a slimy creature that just gets in the cracks and you never know which toilet he will come out of next.

‘He’s a psychopath. He has no idea how much hurt he’s caused. Or he doesn’t care.’

A Kent Police spokesman said: ‘On May 9, 2022, Mark Bullen was charged with three offences of fraud by false representation relating to three hotel rooms which were not paid for in Cornwall, Norfolk and Kent between August 2018 and September 2020.

‘The 51-year-old admitted all three charges at Medway Magistrates’ Court on September 19, 2023, and was remanded in custody to appear before Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on October 9.’

Have YOU had any dealings with Mark Bullen? Please contact [email protected] with information.

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