An adviser has been jailed for six years and five months for defrauding clients out of £478,000 after promising returns of up to 25 per cent from solar panel and property scheme investments.
The Express & Star reports Mark Lewis stole money from victims, defrauding them out of pension and life savings by claiming cash would be invested but kept the investments for himself.
Recorder at Stafford Crown Court Miss Sally Hancox said Lewis’s behaviour moved ‘almost seamlessly from recklessness to downright dishonesty’.
Lewis pleaded guilty to 16 charges of defrauding eight victims out of £478,000, between May 2008 to September 2012.
He had at first faced 39 charges of fraud totalling £2.2m but not guilty verdicts were recorded against those.
While Lewis was on police bail over the property fraud, he began a con involving investment in solar panels.
Miss Hancox told him: “There can be absolutely no doubt that you used your background in property investment to compel others to have confidence in schemes you were putting forward as wise investment opportunities. If they ever were, they quite soon ceased to be anything of the sort.
“It doesn’t take an economist to realise that when interest rates at the bank are barely above 0.5 per cent that an offer such as this was too good to be true.”
Amongst some of the victims were Lewis’ uncle and cousins.