'Lord of Fraud' given seven years jail for investment scam
Friday 13th July 2012
Five men including a self-styled lord have been found guilty over a £5m boiler room scam in which a network of ‘investment brokers’ swindled at least 600 people.
The five were sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison at Southwark Crown Court.
They pressured people into buying worthless shares in a clone company of World Aqua Tech International, along with European Land Development Agency, Art IT and Mediatel.
The authentic-sounding European Land Development Agency, according to Companies House records, was registered in 2005 at a Birmingham address, but never explained what its activities were and is now dissolved.
Investors were told that the companies were about to float on the stock market, guaranteeing them a substantial return on their money.
Victims then received a contract note detailing the number and price of shares they had agreed to purchase and information about how they should make their payment. Once they had paid up, they never heard from the gang again.
One man was directly approached when he was at a cricket match at Lord’s, and ended up losing £1m. An 87-year-old man invested in most of the phoney companies and lost £828,000.
‘Lord’ Hugh Rodley, 65, from Gloucestershire – dubbed the Lord of Fraud – was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering and was sentenced to seven years.
Rodley was born plain Brian McGrough but bought his title at an auction in 1986 and is already serving an eight-year sentence for plotting to steal £229m from Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui bank.
Sentencing him, Judge Andrew Goymer said: “These people you targeted were not city bankers, or financial planners looking for investments to improve their bonuses. These were ordinary, hard-working people saving for their retirement.”
Phillip Dennett, 41, from Cheshire, was convicted of money laundering and found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud. He was sentenced to 12 months.
Julian Silver, 43, from Kent, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering and was sentenced to four years.
Sonny Willis, 28, from Essex, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering and was sentenced to five years.
Adam Corbett, 31, from Camberley, Surrey, was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to three years.
DI Matt Bradford of the City of London Police said: “This gang went to great lengths to secure a deal, bombarding hundreds of elderly and vulnerable people with phone calls and even turning up at an England cricket match in the pursuit of peddling yet more of their worthless shares.
“It took a forensic investigation to unravel the networks and systems that facilitated this fraud and expose the men responsible, with the result sending out a clear warning to anyone thinking of setting up their own boiler room fraud in the UK.”
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