Investment scammer faces 20 year US jail term

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A MULTIMILLIONAIRE may get up to 20 years in a US jail after admitting he helped sell fake shares and options to unsuspecting investors between 2004 and 2008 through operations in Spain. More than 2,300 victims – many of them British pensioners in the UK – were conned out of their life savings to feed Richard Pope’s lifestyle of fast cars, yachts and private jets.

One victim alone lost more than 800,000 pounds (€922,790) in an estimated 100 million pound (€115m) scam.

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The criminal gang would steal the identity, history and shareholder base of dormant, publicly trading companies in America. To lend credibility to these fake investments, websites and glossy brochures were used. They would then cold call investor using “high pressure and misleading sales techniques,” known as a “boiler room” scam.

The 54-year old was charged in March 2009 by US authorities with six other defendants and has been on the run for two years before he was recently arrested at an undisclosed location in Spain.

The other defendants, among them Britons Paul Gunter and Simon Odoni, await trial.


Pope has agreed to pay more than 26 million pounds (€30m) in compensation and to help prosecutors and testify against his co-conspirators, the Tampa Tribune reported.

His sentencing has been postponed by US district judge Richard Lazzara until completion of the case.

Pope pleaded guilty to conspiracy at a Florida district court.


“He and the guys who did this are on a par with some of the most ruthless villains out there,” said Detective Superintendent Bob Wishart, part of the City of London police’s economic crime directorate who led the investigation in collaboration with US homeland security investigation of Tampa and the US secret service.

His “cold criminality” has left hundreds of people “destitute”.

“They thought they were going to be able to look after their families for years to come with this,” he said, “but instead many of them have ended up divorced, homeless, or have had to come out of retirement and get jobs.”

“For some of these people there will be no closure. This has scarred them for life. The psychological effects cannot be underestimated. It is the worst case I have dealt with.”

 

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