Fraudsters Must Repay Scam Cash Or Face More Jail Time

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Fraudsters who ripped off millions of pounds by promising investors high returns from risky schemes must pay compensation or face further jail time.

The four men behind discredited Solar Energy Savings Ltd netted £17 million from more than 500 investors and spent the money on a life of luxury.

The scammers blew the cash on fast cars, including Lamborghinis and Porsches, foreign holidays and cosmetic surgery after lying to investors about the returns they could make if they handed over their savings.

In total, the four fraudsters must repay £435,000 to their victims or spend more time in prison.

Robert Ross, from Ayr, Scotland, must pay £193,206, while Stephen Wilson, from Widnes, Lancashire must hand over £220,000. The money will compensate their victims.

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Crooks lied to investors

Kenneth Reid, 61, must pay £18,869.93 and Niall Hastie, 55, £2,759.70 within three months or face a further two years in prison. The pair, both from Glasgow, are already serving three-and-a-half year sentences.

Their scam involved selling and installing solar panels on homes with the incentive that any extra energy generated could be sold to the national grid under a government feed-in tariff which would give investors extra income in retirement.

The victims thought the investment would cost them nothing as they would be reimbursed installation costs after five years.

But the offer was false as the reimbursement guarantee did not exist, costing each investor between £600 and £35,000.

Lisa Osofsky, director of the Serious Fraud Office, said: “These men operated a sophisticated scheme to scam people out of money they had worked a lifetime to earn.

“The SFO is committed to stripping criminals like these fraudsters of their ill-gotten gains and securing compensation for aggrieved victims. We work tirelessly to ensure that crime doesn’t pay.”

Land banking fraud

In a separate scam case, City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority is returning £2.5 million from crooks involved in a £32.5 million land banking fraud.

Around 800 investors bought worthless plots of land at inflated prices from Countrywide Land Holdings Ltd between 2005 and 2010, with the FCA identifying 573 due compensation.

The compensation comes from the liquidation of Paradigm Consultancy SA, a Panamanian company linked to the fraud.

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said: “Investment promising high returns means there is a high risk investors will lose their money. Sadly, this is what happened here. We have worked very hard to identify people eligible to receive compensation from these schemes and are pleased to have been able to recover and return some of their money.”

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