wine  

Wine investment fraudster gets four years

He offered the staff of partner companies he was working with special wine investment packages ranging from £240 upwards and received over £11,000 from unsuspecting victims who thought they would be getting wine packages, but ultimately received nothing.

His fraud was so elaborate that he hired a personal assistant and chauffeur to give him added kudos and convince others that he was a legitimate businessman. 

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But he also left both his employees out of pocket to the tune of £25,000 in unpaid wages and even took a further £2,500 from his driver who thought the money was being invested in wine.

Among his other victims was a chef, who invested £3,500 in the belief the money would be used to buy wine from abroad, and a wedding planner, whose services Hartmann had enlisted to plan his wedding to his unsuspecting girlfriend. 

Again, he duped the planner into investing around £5,500 into his wine ventures and also lost around £25,000 in lost revenue from business he turned down because he was organising the bogus wedding.

In total, Hartmann’s victims lost more than £104,000 to his fraud and although he paid back around £18,000 as he became aware police were investigating his activity, he still left many of the victims out of pocket.

Hartmann was convicted of 22 counts of fraud in April 2017 and sentenced to four years imprisonment at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Wednesday (19 July).

Hartmann was also wanted by Danish authorities for breaching the terms of his sentence there, having previously been convicted of other similar fraud offences in Denmark and will be returned to the country for this matter upon completion of his sentence in the UK. 

Following Hartmann's conviction, Her Honour Judge Paneth also awarded PC Ramsay with a judge's commendation for his “extensive investigation and diligent work” in the case.

emma.hughes@ft.com