BRIT ACCOUNTANT GAMBLED AWAY INVESTORS' MONEY
21st July, 2013 at 02:59:29
Defendant claimed he had a successful betting system, Court hears.
The Canterbury Crown Court in England heard this week that a 40-year-old accountant who earned £ 150,000 a year working in the City, had defrauded investors of £ 3 million, most of which was spent on a rich live-style and internet football betting.
The publication Kentonline reports that chartered accountant Darren Thompson (40) gambled investors' money by betting on the outcome of football matches on the Internet. The court was told that he initially enjoyed success with what he claimed was a lucrative gambling system....but as he drew more and more investors into his European Football Growth Fund scheme, losses started to build, and he became desperate for more investment money.
He produced a glossy brochure containing false information about the levels of return, enticing even more people to part with their cash in a losing system, which prosecutor Stuart Biggs characterised as "...nothing more than a money-making scam."
Thompson pulled in 100 investors, including his own mother, who lost £ 50,000; his wife's family, which lost £ 300,000; and a woman who invested £ 200,000.
Thompson pleaded guilty to the charges, admitting that he had spent a significant amount of the money on a lavish lifestyle, buying expensive cars, a Las Vegas wedding and numerous trips abroad and had also spent £ 947,000 building up a property portfolio.
Thompson's lawyer said his client had believed that his system, originally devised for exclusive use by himself, was workable.
"Friends became interested in it and it was going well," the lawyer said. "The upshot was that Thompson began to believe in himself and his ability to win and make money and others joined him. Thompson fully believed in the viability of his system but at the beginning of 2007 problems began.
Until he misled them with the brochures all the investors knew that he was betting with their money and that chance was a factor.
Sentencing Thompson to jail for four years and eight months, presiding judge Heather Norton told Thompson: No doubt your investors were reassured by your background in football and investment and no doubt too by the glossy brochures which you provided. Tragically - as far as your investors were concerned - by the start of 2007 you could have been in no doubt at all that this scheme wasn't working.
Judge Norton said the system produced a loss every year from 2004-10, when the brochures claimed it was returning profits.
Investigating officer Detective Stuart Champion said: Thompson abused the trust placed in him by some of his closest friends and investors.
"He provided them with fake data and drew up complex documents such as an executive summary and prospectus to win them over and convince them to put their money in.
"Some of their money was invested into bets but they were never successful as Thompson never made a profit during the time he ran the syndicate.
"The rest of the £ 3 million raised was spent by Thompson on holidays, his wedding and expensive cars while some of his investors struggled to make ends meet as a result.
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