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Man jailed for seven years over £22m investment fraud

A man has been jailed for seven years after defrauding 300 investors through an elaborate trading scam in a prosecution brought by the FCA.

Benjamin Wilson was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court last week.

He ran a scam under the name SureInvestment, an unauthorised firm based in Dorset which claimed to carry out futures trading for investors.

Between 2003 and 2010, Wilson took £21.8m in deposits from investors, many of whom were his personal friends.

He claimed to be trading the money and generating monthly returns of up to 9 per cent.

But in fact the money was spent on extravagant business and lifestyle expenses, including a £4.7m house in Sandbanks and trips to Las Vegas worth £51,000.

FCA criminal prosecution lawyer Alan May says: “The whole of SureInvestment was a charade. In many ways it was the emperor’s new clothes form of investment.”

Wilson forged numerous documents, including company accounts, and employed fake traders who were in fact only carrying out simulated computer trading.

He lavishly kitted out the firm’s offices with bull and bear statues worth £10,000, a games room and a massage room to impress potential investors.

Some £17.5m is owed to investors, of which the FCA has recovered £5.4m, leaving estimated losses of £12.2m. Investors can expect to receive back 31p in the pound.

FCA director of enforcement Tracey McDermott says: “The FCA has an objective to protect consumers and enhance the integrity of the financial system. Wilson being put behind bars contributes to us achieving both.”

The sentence is the longest for anyone prosecuted by the FCA.

Investment Quorum chief executive Lee Robertson says: “Anyone who is trying to dupe the public through criminal activity should be sent to jail, and the FCA should be applauded for securing this prosecution.”

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  1. CommentInvestor warning! Please keep in mind, that while occasionally small frauds are investigated and prosecuted, the largest and the systemic frauds are never criminally prosecuted. The are protected BY the system which profits from them and they are always settled in a “gentlemanly” (read money-sharing) fashion. The greatest risks to the public, to society and to your individual financial health are the systemic (industry designed and planned) frauds that go unreported. Remember that people who sell investments are incentivized and rewarded by a dealer to “produce commissions and fees”. Even if that commission or fee production causes harm to customers. To see how systemic frauds can cut your retirement in half, in secret, and how you can protect yourself, see this video by a recovering broker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KH6XMXlfdBw&feature=share&list=UUy8dpTRZHEz-0JBa_l0w7AQ&index=2

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