An investor who falsely claimed to be FCA authorised has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for defrauding savers out of £3m.
The FCA commenced criminal prosecution against Surrey man Mark Starling in August for alleged offences carried out between between 2008 and 2017.
It was alleged he had operated a collective investment scheme without authorisation or exemption.
Southwark Crown Court has found today that Starling purported to run three investment funds, describing himself as a “proprietary futures trader.”
Starling forged documents, falsely claimed representation from various brokerages in correspondence, falsified bank statements, and set up multiple web domain names and email addresses in names similar to legitimate brokerages, the court has found.
Just under £3m in funds from some 24 friends and acquaintances were collected by Starling over the course of nearly a decade.
The court heard Starling only actually invested £8,000, which resulted in losses of £2,450, and spent £1m maintaining his own lifestyle in the same nine-year time period.
The FCA says: “Starling would sometimes pay money back to his investors on request to sustain the illusion of running a successful investment business. However, the reality was that these payments were just funded from other victims’ investment monies.”
At today’s sentencing, the judge said forgeries of identifications and documents were “sophisticated” and criticised Starling for abusing his position of trust.
The estimate of total funds lost for 17 of the investors totals £1.8m.
The regulator says funds recouped last year will be used to provide limited compensation to Starling’s victims.
FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward says: “His sophisticated and dishonest masquerade has caused substantial losses to innocent investors.
“The FCA is committed to ensuring that criminals who operate unauthorised investment schemes are brought to justice.”