Four men have been jailed over a boiler room scam that defrauded 193 vicitims of £7.5m through a scheme selling land at inflated prices.
The men were sentenced following an investigation by City of London Police. The details of the case can only now be made public after reporting restrictions were lifted.
James Byrne set up the boiler room in 2008, initially named Paramount Land, with various umbrella companies set up in order to move money around. Directors Sam Exall and Michael Foran helped to run the operation while Max Jefferys made the sales calls to victims.
City of London Police says the boiler room targeted vulnerable and elderly victims by cold-calling them and using high pressure tactics to invest in the plots of land.
Paramount Land bought agricultural land and sold it for more than it could be worth, and also sold land it did not own. It told investors to get their money back they needed to invest more so that a conglomerate could buy up their portfolio. The company expected to buy up the investments did not exist.
Byrne was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiracy to commit fraud, and six years’ consecutive imprisonment for a separate fraud investigated by the Metropolitan Police.
Exall was sentenced to four years in prison for conspiracy to commit fraud, while Foran and Jeffery were sentenced to 18 months each on the same charge.
City of London Police detective sergeant Marcus McInerney says: “These defendants caused intense misery for their victims. They used the money to enjoy lavish and extravagant lifestyles leaving their victims destitute.
“The nasty selling techniques which ultimately intimidated and deceived victims and forced them to part with their hard-earned money were an added humiliation.”
He adds: “Through the asset recovery procedure, we will now work to recover as much of their ill-gotten gains as possible, to ensure they do not benefit from their offending and in order to achieve compensation for the victims.”
The investigation into accomplices in the boiler room continues.