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Waikato air show fraudster Ken Ross is again involved in business and is allegedly threatening to sue an elderly woman who he alleges caused his latest venture to nose-dive.
Ross maintained he was in business with 86-year-old Bay of Plenty woman Rita Davies but said he did not envision seeking to recover money from her.
But Mrs Davies said she knew nothing of Ross' new scheme of converting freight containers into homes and claimed the stress of looming legal action had caused her to have a seizure.
Mrs Davies is now back home resting at her Ohope Beach house but said she had decided to speak out as a warning to others who may come into contact with Ross.
In 2009, Ross was found guilty of fraud in relation to his failed Wings and Wheels over Waikato air show and was sentenced to home detention and community work after thousands of ticket holders and businesses were left out of pocket.
Ross was also prohibited from being a director or promoter of a company for five years.
Mrs Davies first met Ross after her daughter, Margaret Sinclair, allowed Ross to serve his home detention at her Hamilton house.
"We treated Ken like family and opened our homes to him and were willing to give him a second chance," Mrs Davies said.
"I thought of him as a friend and he came to stay with me at Ohope Beach.
"Ken would sometimes talk about his business ideas but [she says] there was never any suggestion that I would become involved. I would never go into business with anyone unless I did it properly and got a lawyer behind me."
Mrs Davies said on three occasions she lent Ross $5000 but insisted she didn't know what the money was for.
"Ross fitted into our family so well and I thought I was helping a friend.
"I had no idea he would try and hold me to ransom for more money in the future."
Mrs Davies said she had hoped to recoup the $15,000 through the small claims court but had already "written it off".
But in a letter and documents sent to her on July 6 this year, Ross accused Mrs Davies of breaching an alleged commitment to fund his new business - ISBU project.
The business involved refurbishing freight containers into dwellings.
In the letter, Ross said Mrs Davies led him to believe she would fund the costs of the project and alleged her "breach of contract" had cost him $209,937 plus breach of contractual agreement costs.
Ross wrote: "This has cost me personally a great deal of money, time and endeavour. I have detailed out the overall cost, which if necessary, I will seek restitution for, but not limited to, the sum of $209,937.48.
"At this time, I reserve my position as to whether to pursue the recovery of these monies. I most certainly shall if any legal matters are brought against me, at all."
Ross then claimed Auckland law firm Romaniuk & Associates were willing to act on his behalf "should you wish to proceed any further on any matters".
Ms Sinclair said her family had taken legal advice and were advised to ignore Ross' legal threats.
"But it's still left mum very shaky and it's been hellish for us.
"I've taken trespass notices out against Ross for my home and mum's home but our big fear is Ken will try and put a caveat on mum's property in lieu of his claim. Ken says mum owes him $28,800 for labour but this was when he was claiming a sickness benefit and supposedly couldn't work."
But in response to Waikato Times' inquiries, Ross said he had no intention of pursuing Mrs Davies for costs but maintained the pair were in a business relationship.
"No action to recover any costs is envisioned at all," Ross wrote.
"Mrs Davies simply requested a full statement on the position of the project and this was provided with supporting documents. This included numerous purchase receipts and the like."
Ross maintained Mrs Davies made a commitment to provide ongoing funding until the ISBU project was completed, adding: "I would never have embarked on this project at all if it had not been instigated by Mrs Davies offers."
Despite Waikato Times requests Ross did not provide a copy of a written contract between himself and Mrs Davies.
Waikato corporate fraud detective Simon Eckersley, who helped prepare the air show fraud case against Ross, said Mrs Davies was welcome to contact him with her concerns.
WHO IS KEN ROSS?
Air show organiser Ken Ross promotes Wings and Wheels over Waikato for March 7-9, 2008.
After months of promotion Ross postpones the event indefinitely in February 2008, leaving sponsors and exhibitors $350,000 out of pocket.
Ross found guilty in November 2009 of criminal fraud in Hamilton District Court.
He is also found guilty of breaches of the Fair Trading Act.
In March 2010 Ross is sentenced to nine months' home detention and 200 hours' community work.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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