Suffolk man jailed for ‘Beckham’ gang scam

Burglar John Rainey was jailed for 12 months.

Burglar John Rainey was jailed for 12 months. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Suffolk man who was part of a gang that included the ex-brother-in-law of Victoria Beckham and which used the famous name to persuade people to invest thousands of pounds in a near-£1 million scam has been jailed.

Mark Whitehead, 60, from Bury St Edmunds, acted as finance director to The Commodoties Link (TCL), which operated from rented offices in Canary Wharf in London.

It tricked its victims into investing thousands of pounds in practically worthless materials, falsely promising big returns.

Whitehead was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and jailed for three-and-a-half years at Kingston Crown Court.

He was also banned from being a company director for five years.

The company was fronted by Darren Flood, 40, of Hertford, who was once married to the former Spice Girl’s sister Louise Adams. He was jailed for 30 months.

TCL used the glamour of the Beckham name to impress potential victims but there is no suggestion the Beckhams knew about the fraud or any other use of their name

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Surrey Police, who brought the case, said it knew of 24 victims who had invested more than £800,000 but believed there were up to 30 more victims to embarrassed at being conned to come forward.

TCL targeted vulnerable people to persuade them to invest in buying rare earth elements, metals and oxides used in products such as mobile phones and computers, but police said the materials were virtually worthless.

Whitehead and Flood were sentenced alongside Flood’s half-brother Jonathan Docker, Flood’s cousin Gennaro Fiorentino, and other members of the gang.

Fiorentino, 38, of Hackney, London, was jailed for five years. Docker, 32, of Chigwell, Essex, was jailed for 30 months. and disqualified from being a director of a company for three years.

TCL’s office manager Vikki King, 39, from Basildon, Essex, wept as she was jailed for 27 months.

Flood, Docker, Fiorentino and King had all been convicted last November of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

Also jailed were Stephen Todd, 37, of Tower Hamlets, London, for one year, and TCL’s main salesman, Paul Muldoon, 34, of Basildon, Essex, for four years.

Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

Deputy circuit judge Michael Carroll, sentencing, said the investment scheme was “fraudulent from the outset”.

He told the group: “This must have been known to you once you became intimately involved in the running of the company or played a part in it.”