A report came towards the end of the week that a 40-year-old accountant who was working in the City earning GBP150,000 a year has been sentenced by the Canterbury Crown Court in England because he’s been charged with defrauding investors of GBP 3 million in order to pursue a rich lifestyle and feed a gambling habit.
Namely, the chartered accountant Darren Thompson used investors’ money for online betting on football matches, the court learned in addition to the fact that he was successful at first because he developed a scheme which he thought was a lucrative gambling system.
However, this was not to last, because as he drew more and more investors into his European Football Growth Fund scheme, he started building losses and had to resort to seeking more investments. With that aim in mind, he decided to promote the idea via a professionally looking brochure which contained false information about the levels of return.
Prosecutor Stuart Biggs characterized this as "...nothing more than a money-making scam," but it’s a scam which attracted 100 investors, including Tholmpson’s own mother, who lost GBP 50,000; his wife's family, which lost GBP 300,000; and a woman who invested GBP 200,000.
Upon pleading guilty to the charges, Thompson also admitted that he had spent a large chunk of money leading a lavish lifestyle, buying expensive cars, spending on a Las Vegas wedding and numerous trips abroad and using some GBP 947,000 to build up a property portfolio.
However, according to Thompson's lawyer, his client had believed that his system, which he originally developed for his own use only, was workable.
He added: "Friends became interested in it and it was going well. The upshot was that Thompson began to believe in himself and his ability to win and make money and others joined him. Thompson fully believed in the viability of his system but at the beginning of 2007 problems began.
“Until he misled them with the brochures all the investors knew that he was betting with their money and that chance was a factor.”
For his crime, Thompson was sentenced to four years and eight months of jail time by presiding judge Heather Norton. When pronouncing the sentence, the judge told Thompson: “No doubt your investors were reassured by your background in football and investment and no doubt too by the glossy brochures which you provided. Tragically - as far as your investors were concerned - by the start of 2007 you could have been in no doubt at all that this scheme wasn’t working.”
She also added that the system produced a loss every year from 2004-10, but that the brochures nevertheless claimed it was returning profits.
As investigating officer Detective Stuart Champion noted: “Thompson abused the trust placed in him by some of his closest friends and investors.
"He provided them with fake data and drew up complex documents such as an executive summary and prospectus to win them over and convince them to put their money in.
"Some of their money was invested into bets but they were never successful as Thompson never made a profit during the time he ran the syndicate.
"The rest of the GBP 3 million raised was spent by Thompson on holidays, his wedding and expensive cars while some of his investors struggled to make ends meet as a result.”