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Fraudsters ordered to pay back £185,000 to victims
FRAUDSTERS have been ordered to repay more than £185,000 to the victims of an elaborate real estate scheme.
Shelly English, 44, formally of High Wycombe, and Terence Piper, 50, were told to repay £185,440.74 at a hearing last week.
The duo – of North Avenue, Southend-on-Sea – were convicted of conspiracy to defraud and sentenced to six years imprisonment in February 2010 in relation to offences carried out in 2003.
The pair lived in Spain and persuaded 50 victims from across Spain and England, including from Chalfont St Peter, to buy plots of land near Malaga from a firm they had created, called Lemon Falls.
They sold individual hard standing plots for mobile homes and caravans totalling almost £550,000 – despite the fact they did not own the land.
The fraudulent funds initially passed through a company called Citylist Enterprises Ltd, which had a registered office address in High Wycombe.
After lengthily and complex proceedings, a confiscation hearing was held at Northampton Crown Court last Wednesday.
A large part of the proceeds - which had passed through numerous bank accounts in England and Spain - from the fraud had been spent over a number of years. Hidden and identifiable assets were also held.
Piper was handed a confiscation order for £174,356.24 with an additional prison sentence of two years if he fails to pay in six months.
English was told to pay £11,084.50 with a further six months imprisonment in default. All money will be returned to the victims.
Phillip Croxson, Accredited Financial Investigator from the Economic Crime Unit at Thames Valley Police, said: “This has been a very difficult investigation, made more problematic by the passage of time.
“Whilst ideally we would have liked to return all of the victims’ losses, this outcome represents the very best result that could be achieved in the circumstances.
“It shows that crime does not pay, and that however long it takes we will pursue convicted criminals for the proceeds of their crimes.”