Men Using Scam Money To Launch Online Estate Agency Are Jailed.

Date Published 17 June 2013

Two men who planned to use money that had been obtained fraudulently to set up an online estate agent have been jailed.

Kevin Neal, 51, of Spain, and Anthony Fisher, 65, of Tunbridge Wells, were both sent to prison for two years after sentencing at Derby Crown Court.

The pair had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to acquiring criminal property, following a lengthy investigation by Derbyshire police into a large-scale international fraud which targeted pensioners and conned them out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The men received more than £320,000 from a Spanish company called CGI which had cold-called people in the UK asking them to invest in businesses and lying about potential financial gains.

At least 37 investors, many of them pensioners, handed over to the company money which was then passed to Neal and Fisher who suspected it had been obtained fraudulently. The court heard that the two had paid CGI £50,000 for its services.

The men intended to use the money to set up an online property company.

The court heard this was intended to be a legitimate venture which the two men believed would be profitable. Neither had any previous convictions and the court heard that both had worked hard throughout their lives.

The fraud began to unravel in August 2009 when a Derbyshire man contacted police to say he had been called by CGI asking him to invest. He was suspicious and believed it to be fraudulent and did not invest.

An investigation by the East Midlands Fraud and Financial Investigation Unit led officers to Neal and Fisher who were arrested in 2010. They were both living in Spain in a small town called Javea.

Jailing the men, Judge John Burgess told them: `[The company] needed extra capital which you knew you wouldn’t get through conventional channels. You were acquainted with a conman called Wright and he and associates agreed to get capital for your business. They obtained money by deceiving investors – they lied about your company, lied about its prospects.`

Judge Burgess said the pair were `entirely unconnected` to the way the funds were raised by the `boiler room` scheme but they had `turned a blind eye` when they suspected criminal conduct.

Derbyshire police say they are continuing to investigate this case and other people involved in the fraud are being sought by detectives.