A ‘Ponzi' scheme fraudster who conned thousands of investors out of £34m to fund his lavish lifestyle has been convicted.
Kevin Foster promised high returns on a number of gambling and network marketing schemes but instead used the cash to purchase a farm in Kent complete with swimming pool and Koi carp breeding facilities.
He also spent more than £700,000 on cars, purchased other properties and paid off some of his own debts with the money, collected over three years from 2001.
In one instance, Foster returned just £1,700 to investors who pumped in a total of about £12m to an overseas pyramid scheme.
The 51-year-old was found guilty on 9 March at Harrow Crown Court of unauthorised investment activity, of deliberately concealing facts from investors and of stealing investors' funds.
Serious Fraud Office (SFO) director Richard Alderman says: "This was a very complex investigation and the SFO was determined to bring justice for the many victims who lost their hard-earned savings to this Ponzi scheme."
The SFO says Foster began on a small scale in 2001, offering work colleagues a five-to-one return for a share in a football betting scheme. After honouring early payouts, participants continued to invest with Foster's ever-more elaborate investment schemes, which he collectively titled ‘KF Concepts' and, later, ‘Phase 9'.
He promoted KF at roadshows held across the country and, again after making early payouts, began receiving hefty amounts as investors told friends and family.
Even by this early stage, the SFO estimates Foster would have needed to generate more than £250m to meet the accumulating expectations.
The largest portion of funds was applied by the defendant to an illegal overseas pyramid selling scheme called ‘Planline', run purportedly by a Cayman Islands registered company called Infocus International, which had bank accounts in Switzerland.
Infocus claimed to be an internet-based art dealership, but the ‘art' people purchased were valueless copies of paintings or photographic prints. The SFO says up to £12m was paid into Planline, with only £1,703 being returned.
In January 2004, Kent Police and the FSA interviewed Foster and searched his home in Kent. The following month, KF Concept's activities were frozen and Foster declared bankrupt.
He was charged in 2007 and his trial began on 18 January this year. The case has been adjourned to 16 April for pre-sentence reports and psychiatric reports, with Foster remaining in custody until that date.
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