The City of London Police has cracked down on six individuals who took £11 million from two investment schemes which sold elderly investors ‘worthless’ plots of land and ‘valueless’ carbon credits by confiscating £2.4 million.
The police are set to confiscate £2.4 million from the six individuals, five of whom are currently jailed, in one of the biggest ever cash seizures for the City of London Police.
Matthew Noad, 32, Clive Griston, 54, Harry Neal, 31, Kerry Golesworthy, 50, Linda Noad, 59, and Roger Noad, 62, must repay £2.37m to the scams’ victims or face more time behind bars.
The action comes after the City of London Police’s Asset Recovery team applied to the court to recover the profits of the scams in 2014 after investigations by their fraud squad colleagues resulted in the six being sentenced for fraud and money laundering offences.
According to the City of London Police between 2005 and 2010, Noad and Griston ran a London-based boiler room, assisted by Neal, which took in more than £10 million from victims conned into believing they would make returns of several hundred percent from sites across the UK that were ‘ripe’ for housing development.
However, the land, located in Dumbarton in Scotland, Towcester in Northampton and Collumpton in Devon had little or no value, with much of it situated in greenfield belts, flood zones or areas of historical or environmental significance with no prospect of planning permission.
The City of London Police were alerted to the scam in 2010 after investors raised concerns. It launched an investigation and arrested Noad and Griston on conspiracy to defraud and money laundering charges.
However, when released on bail the two men quickly set up a new boiler room in London to sell valueless carbon credits.
As with the land banking fraud, potential investors were initially contacted by cold-callers promising high percentage returns, with those expressing an interest bombarded with further calls and sent glossy brochures promoting the benefits of signing up to the scheme.
Between August 2011 and December 2012 Clive Griston and Matthew Noad made another million pounds, all of which was swiftly spent before they were arrested for a second time by the City of London Police in September 2012.
According to the City of London Police, many of their victims, in both the land banking and carbon credit frauds, were well into retirement with no prospect of ever being able recoup the money they had lost.
A blind 89-year-old man from Cardiff was reported to have paid £94,000 for plots of land in Dumbarton. He was told the area was primed for development when in reality it had been earmarked to be designated greenbelt land by the local council.
The money that was not blown immediately was handed to Griston’s partner, Golesworthy and Noad’s parents, Linda and Roger to launder the funds through their own bank accounts.
Detective Sergeant Mel Moody, from the City of London Police Asset Recovery Team, said:
‘We are very pleased that our investigation has now concluded with this gang of investment fraudsters and money launderers being stripped of both their liberty and all the proceeds of their crime. We now look forward to returning the recovered funds to the rightful owners.
‘Today’s confiscation hearing also serves as a further warning to fraudsters that the work of the City of London Police does not stop with a successful prosecution, but instead marks the moment when we switch our focus to seizing all their assets.’