The Serious Fraud Office has wrapped a boiler room scam with a fifth prosecution – but is still working to recover more than £4 million conned from investors.
John Curtin, 38, was jailed for three years for the part he played in a bogus investment company selling worthless shares called Secure Trade and Title.
Curtin pleaded guilty to his involvement in the fraud and was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court.
In court, Judge Peter Testar said the gang’s impact on the finances and feelings of those who invested in the scam was ‘considerable’.
“Many were elderly, vulnerable people who had retired and were tricked out of their life savings,” said the judge.
Arrested in France
“They were pleased to be offered the chance to invest because they thought the callers were honest and would help them with their finances, not cheats.
“You deliberately set out to make them believe you were a friend and used that trust to get at their money.”
The court had heard that Curtin led a team selling valueless shares at inflated prices to investors all over the UK.
He trained salesmen to cold call potential victims from Spain and Ireland.
The operation raised more than £4 million in a few months until the Serious Fraud Office stepped in and closed the company.
Curtin was extradited from France and held in prison since November 2013 awaiting trial.
“Curtin was first a salesman and then the manager fraudulently selling company shares from abroad to investors in Britain at hugely inflated prices. He ignored rules about financial regulation in his determination to raise as much cash as he could by selling worthless shares over the phone,” said an SFO spokesman.
“Investors were fooled into thinking the money they sent into a UK bank account was the company selling the shares, but it was a bogus set up designed to trick them.”
The other convicted offenders Brian O’Brien, Lynne D’Albertson, James Pye and Damien Smith, are the subject of confiscation orders totalling more than £650,000.
The SFO has so far recovered just over £276,000 from D’Albertson and £134 from Pye.
Smith was jailed for an extra six months on top of a sentence of three years and four months after telling the judge he had no cash and had spent his share of the spoils on a luxury lifestyle, fast cars and women.