Two men and a woman have been jailed for their part in a £4m offshore boiler room scam based in Spain and Ireland.
Brian OBrien and Lynne D’Albertson controlled the operation from Sussex, through a firm called Secure Trade & Title, which acted as a supposedly secure funnel for share purchases. James Pye was a “boiler room” manager in Barcelona, Spain.
At Southwark Crown Court yesterday, O’Brien, D’Albertson and Pye were sentenced to eight years, four and a half years and six years imprisonment respectively.
The defendant yet to be sentenced is called Damien Smith, who managed a boiler room in Limerick, Ireland. He pleaded guilty yesterday and will be sentenced in May.
O’Brien had entered into an exclusive agreement with two companies, a Canada-based oil and gas exploration company called Golden Dynasty Resources and a UK technology firm called Claimtracker, to help them raise capital through the sale of their shares.
O’Brien instructed a number of boiler rooms to push the sales of the firms’ shares but unknown to the two companies, their shares were being sold to investors at far higher prices than had been agreed.
Prospective investors were subject to persistent persuasion to buy shares in the two firms and were purportedly offered at a discount. They were also promoted on the basis that the companies were about to be listed on a recognised stock market, giving the share price a boost.
The boiler room centres also told investors they would be offered protection by transferring their money to an independent third part, STT. However, this money was transferred instead to O’Brien and D’Albertson.
Unknown to investors, the money received into the STT escrow account was then transferred outside the jurisdiction to a Guernsey bank account, by the name of West Addison Property Management.
The West Addison account was then used to pay O’Brien’s boiler room staff their commissions as well as being a cash pot for O’Brien and D’Albertson.
Serious Fraud Office lawyer Jane de Lozey says: “Some investors have lost thousands of pounds and may have to sell their homes as a result of the deception perpetrated on them. Having brought the orchestrators of this fraud to justice we will continue to work to recover the proceeds of crime in an effort to compensate those who have lost so much.”