A SALESMAN who took part in a boiler room scam which fleeced investors out of more than £4m has been jailed for three years.
John Curtin, 38, sold worthless shares for up to four times the agreed value and then siphoned off the profits as part of the scam run by American Brian O’Brien and his British wife Lynne D’Albertson.
O’Brien and D’Albertson, who used to live in Westfield, were also jailed for their role in the scam.
D’Albertson’s son Damien Smith, of Eversfield Mews North, St Leonards, was jailed for three years and four months.
O’Brien and his wife both 60, tricked up to 300 victims into buying the over-priced shares through the sale of worthless stock, in Golden Dynasty Resources and Claim Tracker, over the telephone.
The victims included a retired doctor who planned to invest £250,000 he had set aside for charity work in Africa and India after buying huge stakes in the companies.
Curtin ran the scam’s operation from bases in Limerick, Ireland, and in Barcelona - outside the immediate control of the UK authorities and the Financial Services Authority.
The fugitive was finally snared on a European Arrest Warrant last October and extradited to the UK to face justice.
Prosecutor Amanda Pinto QC said: “Between 2005 and 2007 the defendant was a sales manager involved in the fraudulent sale of company shares at vastly inflated price.
“The defendant would call potential investors and over a couple of months £4m was acquired.
“Investors had no idea that the money for the shares they transferred, into a Lloyds bank account, was not going to the company they were investing in.”
Curtin helped run the sale of the shares through three companies, Black and White Investments and Cardinal Securities, both based in Spain, and DML Corporation, based in Ireland.
The profits were then transferred back to UK-based company, Securetrade and Title, with only a small portion being paid to Canadian mining company Golden Dynasty and UK based technology company Claim Tracker.
Southwark Crown Court heard Curtin targeted pensioners who he would then duped using high pressure sales techniques.
The fraudster would convince the victim to part with their cash for shares which were either limited for sale of had little or no market value.
Jailing Curtin for three years, Judge Peter Testar said the impact on those who invested in the scam had been ‘considerable’.
He said: “The sorts of people on the list to be targeted tended to be elderly people - people who had retired, people who had saved money.
“When they got cold calls from personable people in Barcelona or Ireland, from people like you, they were happy to receive those calls.
“In fact your technique was to befriend them before moving on to the selling and you were also involved in the research of those shares to be sold to investors.”
The court heard that Curtin worked alongside Damien Smith, 39, the son of D’Albertson, in the sales branch of the scam.
D’Albertson conned members of her own family into buying shares, with she and her husband netting around £3m from their victims after passing just £1m on to the companies.
A fifth fraudster, James Pye, oversaw the so-called ‘boiler rooms’ - makeshift call-centres employing high-pressure sale tactics - and pocketed almost £350,000 from D’Albertson and O’Brien, who was the ‘mastermind’ of the scam.
Judge Testar sentenced the fraudsters to a combined term of 20 years behind bars in April and May 2012.
O’Brien, who had to be extradited from the US to stand trial, was sentenced to eight years; D’Albertson, a qualified nurse and mother of two, was jailed for four-and-a-half-years; Pye was jailed for four years; Smith was given three years and four months.
Curtin was finally arrested last October after he was extradited from France following the issue of a European Arrest Warrant.
His sentencing marked the culmination of a joint five-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and the major fraud unit of Sussex Police.
Curtin, of no fixed address, admitted conspiracy to defraud and contravening the general prohibition on carrying on regulated activity contrary to section two of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
O’Brien and D’Albertson, both formerly of Fairlight View Cottages, New Cut, Westfield, denied but were convicted of conspiracy to defraud, contravening the general prohibition on carrying on regulated activity contrary to section two of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, transferring criminal property between August 2, 2005, and August 24, 2006, and hampering an investigation.
O’Brien also denied one count of attempting to obtain a money transfer by deception.
The couple pleaded guilty to two further counts of contravening general prohibition on carrying on regulated activity contrary to section 2 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 at the start of the trial.
Pye, of Greenfields, South Marston, Wiltshire, admitted conspiracy to defraud and two counts of contravening general prohibition on carrying on regulated activity contrary to section 2 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 last year.
Smith admitted conspiracy to defraud and one counts of contravening general prohibition on carrying on regulated activity contrary.