Several million pounds are to be confiscated from six criminals, five of whom are currently jailed, who profited from scams that saw hundreds of elderly investors sold worthless plots of land and valueless carbon credits.
This marks one of the biggest ever cash seizures for the City of London Police, which is the National Policing Lead for Fraud.
Matthew Noad, 32, Clive Griston, 54, Harry Neal, 31, Kerry Golesworthy, 50, Linda Noad, 59, and Roger Noad, 62, must repay £2.37m to the scams’ victims or face more time behind bars.
The action comes after the City of London Police’s Asset Recovery Team applied to the court to recover the profits of the scams in 2014 after investigations by their Fraud Squad colleagues resulted in the six being sentenced for fraud and money laundering offences.
Between 2005 and 2010 Matthew Noad and Clive Griston ran a London-based boiler room, assisted by Harry Neal, which took in more than £10m from victims conned into believing they would make returns of several hundred percent from sites across the UK that were ripe for housing development.
In reality the land, located in Dumbarton in Scotland, Towcester in Northampton and Collumpton in Devon, had little or no value, with much of it situated in greenfield belts, flood zones or areas of historical or environmental significance with no prospect of planning permission.
The City of London Police, which is the National Policing Lead for Fraud, first got wind of the scam in 2010 when they started seeing more and more reports from people concerned about investments they had made in three companies – Browne Mackenzie, Lawrence Taylor and Charles Barkley.
Having launched a nationwide investigation, supported by local forces, detectives arrested the pair in December of that year in Bromley on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.
But once released on bail the two men moved quickly to set-up a new boiler room in the City of London, this time to sell valueless carbon credits.
As with the land banking fraud, potential investors were initially contacted by cold-callers promising high percentage returns, with those expressing an interest bombarded with further calls and sent glossy brochures promoting the benefits of signing up to the scheme.
Between August 2011 and December 2012 Clive Griston and Matthew Noad made another million pounds, all of which was swiftly spent before they were arrested for a second time by the City of London Police in September 2012.
Many of their victims, in both the land banking and carbon credit frauds, were well into retirement with no prospect of ever being able to recoup the money they had lost.
A blind 89-year-old man from Cardiff was reported to have paid £94,000 for plots of land in Dumbarton.
He was told the area was primed for development when in reality it had been earmarked to be designated greenbelt land by the local council.
An 87-year-old retired teacher, living alone, invested £87,000 with Capital Carbon Credits, telling how she was continually pressurised over the phone into handing over more and more of her savings until there was none left to give.