Bernie Carroll, owner of Bernie Carroll Publications, claims a conman has swindled several pubs out of anything between £30 and £250 by using his pub posters, postcards, maps and business name.
Carroll told The Morning Advertiser that he has now decided to start “winding down” his business as the fraudster has “ruined” it, and wants to raise further awareness of what has been happening to any future targets.
The fraud has been taking place for about eight years, according to Carroll, who said the latest publican to contact him in relation to the scam was earlier this month.
“My list of victims would fill a small volume and they are only the ones I have been made aware of,” he said.
Difficult to track
Carroll claimed the police are aware of the crimes, but that it is “very difficult to track him, as they don’t know where he is going to strike next, or which pub he’s going to visit”.
He is also concerned publicans believe the crime is not worth reporting “as such small amounts of money are involved” and that they may feel “ashamed”.
“I write pub guides for the entire UK, from St Albans to Inverness”, he said.
“The fact he is trading under my name is a bit frightening.”
Despite any official evidence, Carroll believes he knows who is responsible for the frauds.
Didn’t think anything of it
One lessee who fell victim to alleged scam in March 2016 was Darren Casey, from the Sneyd Arms in Keele, Staffordshire.
Casey told The Morning Advertiser a man who called himself Bernie Carroll offered to update the information in the guides his pub was featured in.
The man said it would cost about £30 and take a month to produce.
“I paid the money and didn't think anything of it because we've done it before,” said Casey.
“Then a gentleman came round sometime afterwards and asked if we had someone come in – a well-dressed, very articulate man – selling these pub maps.
“I said 'yes', to which he said, ‘well I'm actually the guy that is doing it, and the guy you have been speaking to is a con-artist pretending to be me’.
“I thought, oh dear. He gave me a police number to ring, but being a bit suspicious I didn't know if I was going to be ringing another fraudulent number that cost me a lot of money, so I never really carried it through.”
Casey said he never received the maps, reported the crime, or found out who had taken his money.
"Like a silly fool I took him on his word for it – he was not someone who you would expect to be a conman who was going to rip you off – but that's what happened.
“Obviously in the future I just won't to do it again.”
Liverpool Police has been contacted for any information on the frauds, but did not respond by the time this article was published.