Two men and a woman have been jailed for a fraud where more than £4m was taken from private investors through a boiler room based in Spain and Ireland.
Brian O'Brien, Lynne D'Albertson and James Pye, trading under the name Secure Trade & Title in Sussex, were jailed for a total of 20 years.
Southwark Crown Court yesterday heard the trio sold shares in two companies to help them raise capital through the sale of their shares. Unbeknown to them, their shares were being sold to investors at far higher prices than agreed.
Investors were also told money to purchase the shares would not be sent to sales operations in Spain or Ireland but to an independent third party with an escrow account in a British branch of Lloyds TSB Bank.
However, the investors were sending money not to a secure handler but O'Brien and D'Albertson, who the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said controlled the scam.
Senior SFO lawyer Jane de Lozey said boiler rooms "trade in deception and ruin lives".
"They misrepresent investment opportunities to prey on people who aspire to improve their lives through investment," she said.
"The key players in this fraud have been brought to justice despite their attempts to disguise their identities, conceal evidence, hide assets and put themselves beyond the jurisdiction of the UK courts.
"Some investors have lost thousands of pounds and may have to sell their homes as a result of the deception perpetrated on them.
"Having brought the orchestrators of this fraud to justice we will continue to work to recover the proceeds of crime in an effort to compensate those who have lost so much."
Despite improved risk appetite
FOS award limit increase
Relates to 136 million transaction reports
Ceremony will take place 13 November