An alternative therapist has been branded "thoroughly dishonest" after he lied about his own health to swindle £8,000 from a health insurance policy.
Louis Woolf, who runs a healing centre in Appledore, North Devon, told insurers BUPA he was suffering from chronic fatigue and was unable to work.
His lies were unmasked when the firm hired private detectives who booked themselves into his Health and Beauty Retreat and were charged £200 for treatment.
Woolf, 54, offers massages, acupuncture and a range of other therapies from the five-bedroomed villa in Broad Lane, Appledore, where guests can also stay overnight.
His website describes his as coming from an Anglo-Austrian background and holding a qualification in Chinese acupuncture. It suggests patients can "turn the clock back five to ten years" and describes its location as "the perfect place to relax".
His message to patients is quoted as "You can do far more with the body you were born with than you would imagine".
Woolf was told his professional reputation had been destroyed by the 14-month long swindle which he admitted at Exeter Crown Court.
Woolf admitted fraud and was jailed for four months, suspended for two years and ordered to pay £1,200 costs by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, who also set a timetable for confiscation of his assets.
The judge told him: ”You falsely claimed you could not work because of chronic fatigue. It was not true. You continued to work and continued to claim money for 14 months, being paid £8173.62.
“You told the probation officer you were unhappy about doing unpaid community because it may damage your professional reputation. Well, you haven’t got a reputation. You have lost it as a result of this criminal offending.
“It was thoroughly dishonest. I shall order a timetable to be set for this money to be recouped.”
Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said Woolf started claiming under his BUPA policy in 2010 for loss of earnings and paid monthly until BUPA officials became suspicious.
He said: ”He was asked to give details of his income and his response was that there was none other than his BUPA benefit.
“A private investigation firm were instructed and made inquiries which suggested treatments were being offered by him and taking place.
“In August 2011 two members of the investigation team visited his home address and received treatment from Woolf himself, for which they recorded he was paid £200.”
Richard Crabb, defending, said Woolf had suffered genuine medical problems and his initial claim had been genuine. He said his home was now on the market for £750,000 so he can repay the money,
He said: ”He has always acknowledged he would have to repay this money and offered to do so at the preliminary hearing. He is 54 and has never been in trouble before.”