It began like so many emails – a distraught reader saying she’d been ripped-off, in this case by a website that promised work.
There was only one qualification: “All you need to be is great company.” After paying the admin fee of between £250 and £450, victims discovered that there wasn’t any work.Among those who contacted the Mirror was an 18-year-old called Jenny, who said: “I was told that they had found me a client but they needed my admin fee first.“I stupidly took out a loan as I thought I would be working the next night, which would have covered it, but on the morning of the date I was told he had cancelled."I’ve tried contacting them but heard nothing and have no idea how to repay the loan.” When I asked Candy Escorts to comment in 2010 they dismissed complaints as “absolute nonsense”.Around 3,300 fell for it, with 92% telling Suffolk Trading Standards they received “no service whatsoever”.
And 14,000 people fell for the escort agencies, usually the unemployed, students and single mothers – anyone looking for extra work.
Muldoon, meanwhile, lived in luxury in a 10-bedroom mansion set back from the tourist drag in Fuengirola.
But behind this sham was Muldoon, a crook I had written about in 2008 for operating a £3million fraud that hit owners of unwanted timeshares who were desperate to sell.
Trading Standards in Suffolk followed the money trail from escort agency firms that were apparently based in the UK to Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, where Muldoon ran call centres, paying staff commission for each victim they signed up.
They also ran a second simultaneous scam, so-called debt elimination firms.
These promised to prove that some credit agreements were unenforceable – in return for up-front fees of as much as £2,000.