Two men have been jailed following the UK’s first criminal trial involving land banking fraud after a City of London Police investigation.
Evidence gathered showed the pair cheated more than 300 investors out of £3 million. They coned the elderly and vulnerable into buying plots of land that were either worthless or massively over-priced.
The two men aged 42 and 32 years old were sentenced to seven and six years at Isleworth Crown Court, having been found guilty of five counts of money laundering.
The locations were marketed as being in a prime position for development and would quickly increase in value. In reality investors were putting their money into plots located on farmland, in the Green Belt, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or on the sides of hills, with no chance of gaining planning permission let alone building houses.
Some received small returns while others lost everything, with the gang funnelling off the funds into a network of bank accounts.Over a two-year period over 300 victims fell foul of the gang, with one elderly man who was suffering from terminal cancer losing almost £300,000, and a retired woman being conned out of £373,000. Cold calling and high pressure sale tactics were put into play to target and then bully people into buying into their scheme.
DC Dave Parkinson, from the City of London Police, said: "The pair preyed on the vulnerable, exploiting their desire to put their savings in something tangible that would provide them with long-term security. They cared not from whom they stole, but only for what they could take.
"Plots of land that were good for nothing and worth a fraction of the asking price were marketed as a sound investment with planning permissions in the pipeline and development round the corner. The gang used all the tricks of the trade to give the appearance of legitimacy, picked off their targets over the phone and then disappeared without trace with their savings.
UK investors fall prey to £1.2bn of fraud
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Read more about the fraud on the City of London Police website.
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Overconfident UK investors fall prey to £1.2bn of fraud