Corrupt Colchester financial adviser jailed over Ponzi scheme

David Stevens, of Colchester, has been jailed after setting up a Ponzi scheme Picture: SEAN DEMPSEY

David Stevens, of Colchester, has been jailed after setting up a Ponzi scheme Picture: SEAN DEMPSEY/PA - Credit: PA

A corrupt financial adviser from Colchester who conned almost £1.2million of his clients’ life savings has been jailed for more than five years.

Through the Ponzi scheme he nicknamed “the club”, David “Danny” Stevens conned 16 of his clients out of their savings between 2010 and 2017 – claiming their money was going into a collective investment fund.

Stevens, 67, had met the majority of his victims after providing them financial assistance through his Ingatestone-based firm David Charles Financial Services.

Those who bought into “the club” were told the firm made loans of no more than £50,000 to small businesses at an average interest rate of 12% – and that should the businesses default, Stevens would personally cover the cost.

However, Southwark Crown Court heard the money was instead being used to fund Stevens’ “lifestyle and businesses” and a “substantial” gambling habit, according to prosecutor James Norman.

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Mr Norman said: “In addition, some of the money was used to make interest payments, or what appeared to be interest payments, to some of the victims, to prevent the fraud from being uncovered.

“That is of course the Ponzi method.”

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“He spent the money propping up businesses of his own and funding his own lifestyle - not least his substantial gambling habit,” Mr Norman added.

Among his victims was an 84-year-old woman who lost her entire £58,000 life savings to the scheme – while another lost nearly £560,000.

In total, Stevens’ fraud amounted to £1.17million.

Stevens had previously denied 15 counts of fraud by false representation and one charge of theft relating to his final victim – however changed his plea to guilty on October 15, three days before his trial was due to begin.

Sentencing him to five years and nine months in prison, judge Michael Hopmeier said: “Your victims were ordinary hard-working people or retired persons who put their trust in you, they were not sophisticated investors.”

He continued: “Each victim has lost different sums and to different extents are feeling a mixture of anger, frustration, that they have been let down and that this is a breach of trust.

“It has also affected the lives of the victims who went on to introduce friends to the defendant and caused loss of friendships.”

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