Trio jailed over £80m transatlantic boiler room fraud

Three British men that defrauded at least 2,300 UK investors out of £80m in a boiler room investment fraud involving dormant US public companies have been jailed for a total of 43 years in prison at a Florida court.

City of London police said the sentencing of Richard Pope, 55, Paul Gunter, 64, and Simon Odoni, 56, signifies a “major milestone” in a seven-year transatlantic investigation by City police and US law enforcement agencies, supported by the Serious Fraud Office, Spanish police and Norfolk Police.

At least 2,300 people in the UK, mostly retired professionals, were found to have lost money to the fraud, with individual losses ranging from a few hundred pounds up to £1m. Many victims lost all their savings, the police said.

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The origins of the fraud date back to 2004 when three men and their co-conspirators acquired dormant public-traded companies in the US, which they used to sell UK investors worthless stock.

They facilitated the fraudulent scheme by coordinating a network of Spanish boiler rooms employing hundreds of people police added.

The stolen funds were used to expand the criminal network and pay for extravagant lifestyles including a £350,000 private jet, 26 properties in the US and three in the Dominican Republic, and a number of high value cars and speed boats.

In March 2009 the United States Attorney’s Office charged seven defendants, including Mr Pope, Mr Odoni and Mr Gunter, with offences including money laundering and mail and wire fraud.

In March 2011 Mr Pope pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and a year later two US lawyers were found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

During the March 2013 trial, Mr Pope testified against Mr Gunter and Mr Odoni. Both men were found guilty this April.