A MARRIED couple who were behind a £4 million boiler room fraud that conned hundreds of elderly investors are facing jail.
American Brian O’Brien, 57, and his British wife Lynne D’Albertson, 58, both of New Cut, Westfield, tricked up to 300 victims into buying over-priced shares.
The pair sold stock in Golden Dynasty Resources and Claim Tracker for up to four times the value agreed with the firms and siphoned off the profits into their own accounts.
D’Albertson even conned members of her own family into buying the shares, with she and her husband netting around £3 million from their victims after passing just £1 million on to the companies.
The duo were convicted by a jury at Southwark Crown Court following a joint five-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and the major fraud unit of Sussex Police.
They will be sentenced later.
O’Brien was remanded back into custody while D’Albertson was granted bail ahead of their next appearance.
They oversaw the sale of the shares through three companies, Black and White Investments and Cardinal Securities, both based in Spain, and DML Corporation, based in Limerick, Ireland.
The profits were then transferred back to their 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.
Some of the cash was divvied up among co-conspirators and sales staff, while large amounts were also paid into the couple’s personal bank accounts and the offshore account of West Addison Property Management, a company registered to D’Albertson.
The trial heard Cardinal Securities was set up by James Pye, while DML was set up by two alleged co-conspirators who cannot be named for legal reasons.
But O’Brien and D’Albertson took ultimate control and none of the companies were regulated by either the Financial Services Authority or the equivalent bodies in Spain or Ireland.
Amanda Pinto, prosecuting, said: “The victims were predominantly older, British residents who were invited to buy shares and were deceived by the dishonest representation and the deliberate, dishonest withholding of significant, relevant information to part with significant sums of money for shares which were either limited for sale of had little or no market value.
“In a period of some eight months investors paid about £1.6 million to Securetrade and Title for the purchase of Golden Dynasty shares, of which some £480,000 was paid to Golden Dynasty.
“Equally, for Claim Tracker investors paid about £2.5 million for the purchase of its shares only £600,000 was transferred to Claim Tracker.
“The shares were sold at such inflated prices and such a small portion of the investors’ money was invested that there was never any chance of them making a profit.”
The con began in 2005 when O’Brien, described as the ‘brains behind the scam’, secured deals with Golden Dynasty and Credit Tracker to sell shares on their behalf.
Both were ‘small, relatively obscure’ firms that wanted to raise capital quickly, and were targeted as their share prices could not be easily monitored. One was registered on a foreign stock exchange, while the other was not listed at all.
At the time the alleged fraud began Golden Dynasty shares were valued at just 6p each but O’Brien and D’Albertson sold them for as much as 25p.
When investigators caught up with O’Brien and D’Albertson, the couple attempted to conceal crucial documents, but friends duped by the duo passed the information to the Serious Fraud Office.
O’Brien and D’Albertson, denied the charges but were convicted of conspiracy to defraud, contravening the general prohibition on carrying on regulated activity contrary to section 2 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 pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and one count of contravening general prohibition on carrying on regulated activity contrary to section 2 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 last year.