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His company SureInvestment stripped over 300 clients of more than £21 million
The FCA has reported that it successfully concluded the prosecution of Benjamin Wilson – a fraudster that has managed to deceive more than 300 investors into entrusting his company SureInvestment £21.8 million. Justice is heavy – the scammer will serve seven years in prison which includes, seven years for fraud, and two and four years for forgery. The terms of the sentences will be served concurrently.
According to the FCA’s press release an estimated £5.39 million will be recovered of the total of £17.54 that the company owed its investors. The firm was set up all the way back in 2003 when Wilson was merely 24 years old. After he was notified by the FCA that he needed to get regulated in order to continue trading or return his clients’ funds he lied to the regulator stating that he did so.
Meanwhile he persuaded his clients to tell the FCA that he had returned their money, while in fact he urged his customers to invest in a non-existing “overseas” fund. What Wilson did instead was that he placed the funds in his personal SureInvestment bank account. For the period between 2003 and 2010 only 20% of the funds that were received from clients were ever traded, and the results were quite discouraging.
The exaggeration of trading abilities and return was astounding – in 2005 Wilson has claimed to his investors that the fund was up by 146% and was worth $3.6 million, when in fact at the time Wilson had lost 90% of invertors’ money and the fund had less than £100,000. In order to cover up the scheme SureInvestment proceeded with attracting new clients and operating in a Ponzi-style fashion.
The end result and the gravity of the situation have grown exponentially – unlike the current Ponzi scheme king Bernard Madoff, our fellow convict has stated returns of way more than the 7% his North American “competitor” did. By April 2010 Wilson claimed to his clients that the fund was worth $160 million.
During the course of the years Wilson spent £4 million on a house in Dorset, £200,000 on racing and horses, £200,000 on cars and hundreds of thousands more on shopping, leisure and holidays. To cover up his scheme he has also spent £4.8 million on a lavish office in Poole which was filled with employees that were trading on simulated accounts. Many of them have actually become victims by persuading their friends and families to invest in the scheme.
In 2010 the UK regulator has acted through civil courts to freeze assets of the company and seize the unauthorized investment scheme. Once the magnitude has become clear a criminal proceeding was launched. Wilson pleaded guilty for investment fraud and two charges of forgery on December 12th thereby avoiding a trial.
Another sad ending for a massive Ponzi scheme – it seems that there are always enough naïve people to believe in massive amounts of “free” money.
For the full press release visit FCA’s website.