Fury at cheat still on the run
CUSTOMERS in Swindon who lost money to wanted fraudster Christopher Baines have described their disgust at the fact that the cheat has not been put behind bars and is free to continue stealing from innocent people.
Last week the Adver revealed how the man who was sentenced to five years in prison on 30 counts of fraud after a trial in the summer had fled to America and was making thousands of dollars through similar schemes.
Wiltshire Police are currently working with the FBI to locate Mr Baines, and have applied for an international arrest warrant with a view to extradite him back to the UK to serve his time.
And customers at Mr Baines’ former shop, Mr Woodz, which operated from the Brunel Centre until it was forcibly closed in 2011, are aghast he has been allowed to carry on with his scams.
Jody Johnson described how Mr Baines knew he was taking all the money she had to order furniture for a new nursery, but remorselessly left the then pregnant woman empty-handed.
“I lost all my savings and had no way of retrieving them because I paid cash so I had no credit card payment protection,” she said.
“I had wanted to take him to small claims court, but that is clearly of no use if he is not in the country.
“What upset me all the more was because I was heavily pregnant at the time. Mr Baines was well aware that I had saved for a long time for that furniture, some of which was for my little one’s nursery. We had discussed this at length so I felt completely taken advantage of.”
Jody was left to pick up the pieces by getting into debt and was forced to cut her maternity leave short.
“I ended up having to pay for more furniture on a credit card, because I had just moved and had no furniture,” she added. “I had to return to work early following the birth of the baby because I needed to pay the credit card bill. I only bought cheap furniture the second time, but it all mounts up, especially when you are on maternity leave.
“It was very upsetting at the time. Now it’s just frustrating, and I would at least like to know he is repaying his debts.
“The idea of him on a jolly around America scamming other people is just horrid. I feel so sorry that we haven't been able to prevent all these new victims having their hard earned money wasted by him.”
Jody would like to see nothing more than Mr Baines in handcuffs, but is not convinced he will ever be caught.
“I hope they finally catch him and bring him home to serve his sentence,” she said. “It would be good to have the matter resolved finally, and prevent anyone else being treated so poorly by him.
“I have distinct doubts this will ever happen though. He has been evading the police for so long, it is clearly something he is well versed at.”