A dodgy fish salesman used aggressive and threatening behaviour to rip off elderly and vulnerable people to the tune of £100,000.

Darren Shanks conned his customers by claiming his fish was fresh when it had been frozen, lying about the cut or species and selling underweight fish.

The 53-year-old targeted customers across the Midlands and the North of England by mis-selling over-priced fish using aggressive, unfair and dishonest business practices.

Teesside Crown Court heard how several victims describe feeling threatened by Shanks’ reaction when they said they couldn’t afford to pay or challenged the price.

Investigators successfully identified 45 victims who were preyed on by the defendant regularly trading as D T Shanks Fresh Fish.

Read more: Dodgy fish seller ripped off scores of vulnerable customers - including pensioner aged 105

One victim, who took over negotiations from her husband who had advanced Parkinson’s disease, was subjected to aggressive tactics, and afterwards felt ashamed that she had been bullied into buying the fish.

Another victim, who lives alone, described feeling ‘quite scared’ and ‘very intimidated’ as a result of Mr Shanks’ harassment after she cancelled her cheque after realising the fish was inedible.

He often failed to mention price until the fish was in the victim’s home and regularly left excessive quantities, without giving customers the chance to inspect their purchase.

Speaking after the hearing, Wendy Martin, Director of National Trading Standards, said: “People should feel safe in their home and should not be intimidated on their own doorstep. In this case, many of the victims were on a pension and could not afford to lose the money they did. We are grateful to those who gave their statements – thanks to them, this man can no longer cause harm.

“Shanks profited from the shame and fear he instilled in his victims, knowing that elderly and vulnerable customers could be more easily bullied into parting with extortionate sums for fish that was in many cases, inedible.”

Shanks, of Elm Crescent, Kimblesworth, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, pleaded guilty to recklessly engaging in business under the Fraud Act 2006 between June 2016 and February 2021.

He was jailed for two years and four months and made subject of an indefinite Criminal Behaviour Order banning him from working as a door-to-door fish salesman.

The defendant was the ninth mobile fish seller from the North East to have been identified, convicted and sentenced at Crown Court following an lengthy investigation.

  • Anyone who has been a victim or knows someone who has, can report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline by calling 0808 223 1133.

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