Jailed: Victoria Beckham's ex brother-in law and six others for £800k 'boiler room' scam
PUBLISHED: 19:05 11 January 2019 | UPDATED: 19:12 11 January 2019
A group of fraudsters, including Victoria Beckham's former brother-in-law, have been jailed today for a £800,000 'boiler room' scam from a virtual office in Canary Wharf.
An elderly widow and a retired lecturer were among the victims scammed out of thousands of pounds by a criminal gang that persuaded them to invest thousands of pounds in materials known as rare earth elements, falsely promising big returns.
One 83-year-old woman from Woking lost more than £179,000 - her entire life savings - to The Commodities Link (TCL) swindle.
Darren Flood, who was previously married to the former Spice Girls star’s sister Louise Adams and is the father of her eight-year-old daughter, was today jailed for 30 months at Kingston Crown Court.
Flood’s half brother Jonathan Docker, of High Road, Chigwell, was given 30 months and their cousin Gennaro Fiorentino, of Wetherell Road, Hackney, who played “the leading role” in the company, was jailed for five years.
"These victims were not stupid and they were not greedy. The criminals worked very hard to persuade them – some of whom were previously successful business people or academics – that this was a good investment opportunity. "
Stephen Todd, of Blackwall Way, Blackwall, who was brought in by Fiorentino to help run the company, is currently serving time in prison for a similarly-styled “land banking” fraud and was sentenced to a year behind bars, to run consecutively with his current term.
TCL’s office manager Vikki King, 39, from Basildon, was jailed for 27 months.
The court heard the mother-of-four had previously been given a suspended sentence for benefit fraud.
Qualified accountant Mark Whitehead, from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, who acted as the company’s finance director, was handed a three-and-a-half-year sentence.
The court heard the 60-year-old was previously cautioned for fraud.
TCL’s main salesman Paul Muldoon, who regularly used pseudonyms during the course of the fraud, had “made great play of Darren Flood being David Beckham’s brother-in-law”, during a pitch to a victim who lost more than £62,000.
The 34-year-old, of Basildon, who was jailed in 2010 for fraud offences, fled the UK after being questioned about TCL’s activities, and was extradited from Spain last year.
He was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
All have been convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
The court heard the Beckham name was mentioned to some potential investors to give the scheme an air of legitimacy, although Flood’s barrister argued he had not personally sought to capitalise on the family link.
There is no suggestion the Beckhams knew anything about the TCL fraud or about any use of the Beckham name.
Detective Inspector Matthew Durkin from Surrey Police said: “This was a complex case to investigate due to the large number of defendants, the huge amount of digital, financial and paper evidence, and the complex nature of the defendants changing relationships during the time that the fraud took place. I am proud of the result we got today and that is testament to the hard work of my officers.
“I want to particularly pay tribute to the bank manager who started this investigation by giving us a call when he was uncomfortable with an investment a client was trying to make. Without his quick thinking, who knows how much further they would have got.
“These victims were not stupid and they were not greedy. The criminals worked very hard to persuade them – some of whom were previously successful business people or academics – that this was a good investment opportunity.
“These people have broken their victims’ lives – they took life savings, left investors destitute and ruined their confidence and independence.
“My message to anyone receiving a cold call about an investment opportunity is to hang up. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”