Holiday villa fraudsters who conned clients out of £2.8m are jailed for a total of 17 years


Holiday villa fraudsters who conned clients out of £2.8m are jailed for a total of 17 years

  • The gang were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in London last Tuesday 
  • The FCA described as its ‘second largest ever criminal prosecution’
  • Between 2010 and 2014, the crooks used cold-calls and pressured sales tactics

Tony Hetherington, Financial Mail on Sunday

Guilty: Michael Nascimento will soon be facing sentencing

Guilty: Michael Nascimento will soon be facing sentencing

Guilty: Michael Nascimento will soon be facing sentencing

Fraudsters who ran a crooked investment scheme exposed by The Mail on Sunday have been jailed for a total of more than 17 years after they were convicted of cheating clients out of £2.8 million.

The gang were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in London last Tuesday after what the Financial Conduct Authority described as its ‘second largest ever criminal prosecution’.

Between July 2010 and April 2014, the crooks used cold-calls and high pressure sales tactics to sell shares in a company that supposedly planned to build villas on the holiday island of Madeira. 

They also marketed ‘fractional ownership’ of rooms in a hotel that had not even been built.

In August 2011, I warned that the gang and its ringleader Michael Nascimento were acting illegally. They were not authorised to sell shares or to operate a unit trust-style scheme selling stakes in their non-existent hotel.

This offence alone is punishable by up to two years in prison, but they were allowed to continue. In 2012, I warned again that Nascimento was still in business and still breaking the law. But he was allowed to carry on defrauding investors until 2014.

The trial judge accurately described the investment sales as ‘scams from start to finish’, adding that ‘some victims have lost everything they had’.

The City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority now says it will try to recover whatever money the crooks still have.

Charanjit Sandhu, top salesman for the gang, was jailed for five and a half years.

Salesmen Hugh Edwards and Stuart Rea were both sentenced to three years and nine months.

Jeannine Lewis, who hid and destroyed computers holding evidence, was jailed for two and a half years.

Ryan Parker, who laundered some of the money raised in the fraud, was given a two year suspended sentence.

Nascimento will be sentenced on Friday. 

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