Four scammers have been sent to prison for a total of about 15 years for running a mass investment fraud scheme.
The UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said they managed to con victims out of more than £13.7m ($16.4m, €16.1m).
The fraudsters are:
- Mohammad Noman Tanveer, convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and to launder money;
- Mohommed Hussain, both convicted of conspiracy to money launder;
- Florian Pierini, both convicted of conspiracy to money launder; and,
- Jeffrey Razaq, convicted of a money laundering offence.
The four criminals were given sentences totalling to nearly 15 years in prison on licence – meaning that they might be able to be released before their entire jail terms are complete.
According to the CPS, the four fraudsters were part of a boiler room investment scheme where a company was set up especially to carry out the scam.
They persuaded victims to invest into a fund which they claimed would generate income by buying, upgrading and selling residential properties through a company called Essex and London Properties (ELP).
But ELP didn’t own the properties that were being advertised, many of which were not even on the market.
The CPS and Essex Police discovered that more than 800 people had invested in the bogus scheme, with payments ranging from £5,000 to £140,000.
ELP claimed it had brought properties along the Crossrail – now Elizabeth Line – train route running from London to Essex, “which would then be refurbished and re-sold at a profit”, CPS said.
But investigators found that only a single property was ever bought.
The four scammers received nearly £1.5m for their roles in the bogus scheme:
- Tanveer received £137,459 as an original director of ELP;
- Pierini ran companies that were used to “launder money obtained by fraud”, with payments nearing £540,000;
- Similarly, Hussain ran a business that was used to launder just under £320,000; and,
- Although Razaq was not directly involved in the fraudulent operation, he did receive payments of around £110,410 for which “no legitimate explanation was provided”.
In June 2021, Mitchell Mallin, another director of ELP, was banned for 14 years for dishonest conduct, following the winding up of the company in 2018.
Jonathan Kelleher of the CPS said: “This was a callous and cruel investment fraud which duped around 800 victims into thinking they were buying into a legitimate property scheme. Many of them were elderly and vulnerable. The scheme proved to be a scam, designed only to defraud victims of their life savings.
“The fraudsters presented themselves in a credible way and secured the trust of many victims. The only people to benefit from the schemes were the fraudsters themselves and those who assisted them in laundering the proceeds of their crimes.
“I would like to thank the many victims who supported this prosecution, witnesses who assisted in bringing the case to justice, the hard-working Essex Police team who investigated these defendants and their criminal enterprise and counsel who prosecuted at trial.
“The CPS has commenced proceedings to recover the proceeds of crime. Any money recovered will be used to compensate the victims of these crimes.”