"The frauds were highly sophisticated."
Fraudster Muhammad Tanveer, aged 30, from Romford, was jailed for seven years on Friday, April 26, 2019, for conning elderly people in a ‘boiler room’ operation.
He led a group of eight where they cold-called victims and offered them a chance to invest in corporate bonds that were supposedly available to private investors.
In actual fact, the stocks are worthless or non-existent. High pressured sales tactics are used which is why they are described as a boiler room.
In total, the gang scammed victims out of almost £3 million.
Tanveer ran the scam from 2014 until 2016 and he had conned over 50 people out of £1.6 million.
The group would specifically target elderly and vulnerable people with some being duped more than once. An 83-year-old victim lost life savings of almost £1 million.
The victims were shown marketing brochures and company reports to make the scam look legitimate. They had promised large annual returns between 8-10%.
Victims were told their funds would be invested in large blue-chip companies such as Thames Water, BT and Rolls-Royce.
Once they made an investment, victims received a bogus ‘dividend’ payment which enticed them into making more investments.
When they continued to invest, they received further dividends.
However, if victims decided to stop investing, the dividends were stopped and brokers became unavailable.
The scam also returned to previous victims and demanded money to help them with a fake “exit strategy”.
The investigation saw more than 50 people come forward.
Judge Joanna Korner said: “The reason this fraud was particularly unpleasant was that part of it was aimed at many people who had already been defrauded.
“The frauds were highly sophisticated.”
The judge identified Tanveer as the one leading the scam as he helped set up the websites and logos for the scam.
In an earlier trial, Tanveer was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud in relation to the ‘boiler room’ scam. He was found guilty of money laundering offences on April 26, 2019.
Judge Korner said: “During the course of the evidence, [Tanveer] told lie after lie.
“Some of which were particularly outrageous. Even after being convicted in the first trial he declined to plead guilty.”
The seven other defendants were also sentenced for their role in the scam.
Barry Spearing, aged 58, of Suffolk, was jailed for six years. Shaun Cross, aged 30, from Orpington, Bromley was imprisoned for four years and eight months.
Ryan Weston, aged 27, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.
Lucy Richardson, aged 25, of Orpington, was given a 2-year suspended sentence.
Cross’ mother Mandy Cross, aged 59, from Orpington, received a 12-month suspended sentence. She allowed more than £160,000 to pass through her account.
Mark Bowman, aged 55, from Whitley Bay, was given a 15-month suspended sentence. Phillip Hunt, aged 32, from Norfolk received a 20-month suspended sentence.
Alistair Dickson, of the CPS, said: “This was a particularly callous scam operation, where vulnerable victims lost their entire life savings on investments that simply didn’t exist.
“Common to each of the frauds was the fact that the individuals targeted were often elderly and vulnerable.
“Persuaded by the friendly nature of those who contacted them and the lengths to which these criminals had gone to make it all seem genuine, they trusted what they were being told.
“The reality is that the gang conned their way to nearly £3 million.”