A former wealth manager who conned two friends out of £278,000 to maintain a playboy lifestyle of luxury holidays and extravagant parties has been jailed for nearly three years.
Simon Beesley, 42, convinced Suzanne Lauder and Sam Lipton to hand over their savings after ‘grooming’ them with lavish dinners and invites to the Wimbledon Tennis Champion Championships.
Smooth-talking Beesley, who boasted of access to defence secretary Philip Hammond, promised them 20 per cent returns on their investment in a maritime patrol aircraft project.
Instead he frittered away their cash on family trips to Canada, New York and China as well as paying off his overdraft and business debts.
Beesley even used some of the money to buy his wife a 40th birthday present of a £6,000 diamond watch from Ms Lauder’s jewellery shop in London’s New Bond Street.
And when confronted about the scam, Beesley tried to delay paying the money back by claiming his daughter had a rare form of cancer.
Mr Lipton, who first met Beesley at an ante-natal class, told the Old Bailey he had been fooled into believing the conman was a successful and respectable businessman.
“He would frequently invite my wife and I to lavish parties at restaurants where there would be 20 guests and he paid the bill for everyone.
“My wife and I were invited to his wife’s 40th birthday party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. He hosted an extravagant event featuring music and dinner and dancing.
“He invited me to Wimbledon... he specifically referred to me as a partner.
“All of the above are examples of how I was groomed by Mr Beesley over many years so he could gain my trust and respect and prey on me.
“He has never shown any remorse or apologised to me and my family and has only lied and made promises he never kept about paying me back.”
The Old Bailey heard Beesley started the scam after racking up large personal and business debts and was under pressure from the banks.
“He said his daughter had a rare form of cancer and that was why he wasn’t able to pay,” said prosecutor Daniel Robinson.
“That lie proved to be false - neither of Mr Beesley’s daughters suffered from cancer.”
Ms Lauder decided to invest £100,000 in a company promoted by Mr Beesley, Extreme Global Solutions (EGS), because she trusted him, prosecutor Daniel Robinson said.
But instead of passing the money to EGS, Beesley paid it into his personal and business accounts and used it to pay off debts and buy Christmas presents.
Beesley then gave Ms Lauder a fake share certificate and continued to spend her money on a family skiing trip to Whistler in Canada in Easter 2013.
By May 2013 all of her money had been spent and he was again in debt.
He then approached his friend Mr Lipton at the Queen’s Tennis Championships to invest in the EGS scheme, claiming his family had already put in £3m.