Four precious metals investment scammers have been jailed for a total of 29 years after duping hundreds of customers out of £7.75million in savings and pensions in exchange for ‘worthless barrels of junk’.
Using a misleading website and inaccurate glossy brochure they either cold-called victims with scripted patter or placed adverts offering the opportunity to purchase supposedly lucrative metals vital to 80 per cent of the world’s industry.
Ringleaders Christopher Sabin, 44, of Sevenoaks, Kent, and Tobias Ridpath, 52, from Hastings, East Sussex, were both jailed for nine years.
Prolific salesman Nicholas Start, 35, of Tadley, Hampshire, who pocketed at least £132,000 in commission over a few months, was handed a seven-year sentence.
William Berkeley, 52, of Horsham, West Sussex, joined the scam near its conclusion and was sent to prison for four years.
The group were convicted by a jury at Blackfriars Crown Court of conspiring to defraud investors by making false representations. A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will follow to confiscate their profits.
Prosecutor David Durose told jurors Denver Trading – started by Sabin and Ridpath – was run from a short-term £860 per month office in the City.
The court was told Start headed a ‘prolific’ brokerage – London Commodity Markets – and Berkeley took over the Swiss branch of the business after the original director quit, claiming the business ‘stank horribly.’
One typical investor, Cecil McMurray, invested £243,000 and ‘lost a vast amount of money’.
Another client bought 100 kilos of rare metals in September 2012 for £39,000. Two-and-a-half years later that investment was worth £285.
I was booked to do so but then they decided I wasn’t needed. As to why I was booked to give evidence:
Investors were wooed with promises of returns on investments in Rare Earth Metals and Rare Earth Elements, which were vital in engineering and manufacturing.
The court heard father-of-three Sabin and father-of-two Ridpath founded the company in the Seychelles on February 23, 2013 and quickly gave it the trappings of a successful business.
I think that’s slightly wrong, they started in 2012.
I called it almost immediately:
Investing in Rare Earth Metals: Don’t Do It!
As my written evidence pointed out:
He added: ‘There is no resale market for these metals. They were almost useless as an investment.’
Dib Dib Dib I guess.