Pair helped run high pressure ‘boiler room’ scam worth �7.5m

A PAIR of fraudsters are today behind bars for their part in an elaborate ‘boiler room’ scam worth millions of pounds which conned investors into buying fictitious shares.

Ruhul Patel and David Vidgeon each made around �1million from a sophisticated con which embezzled the life savings of 1,250 individuals, who a judge said had “more chance of winning the lottery than seeing a return on their investment.”

Patel, 34, and Vidgeon, 30, were part of a countrywide swindle which saw bogus companies set up first in Suffolk, where two fake businesses were registered, and then across the UK.

Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday how serious fraud investigators first became aware of the high pressure, share-pushing operation in 2005. Three years later, enough evidence had been gathered for Patel and Vidgeon to be arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud for their part in a scam that lasted nearly five years between April 2003 and November 2006 and generated �7.5m.

Vidgeon, of Longfield, Kent, was guilty of having day-to-day control of the companies and passing information to so-called ‘boiler rooms’ in Barcelona, where Patel operated unauthorised call centres, concerned in the selling of shares on behalf of companies, with two accomplices who remain uncaptured.

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Vidgeon’s defence team asked Judge John Holt to “reassess the pecking order” of the operation, which they said did not only involve the men awaiting sentence, adding: “Mr Vidgeon’s true role was that of a conduit, passing information from one side to the other.

“He showed an appropriate if not honourable attitude, not simply for personal gain, by making attempts to offer refunds.

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“The evidence does not point to him looking for work of a fraudulent purpose. He was invited, picked or transferred to work for the organisation when he was 23 years old.”

In Patel’s defence, Peter Doyle said he was a man of hitherto good character who was held in high esteem “in family circles and further afield.”

Patel, of Syston, in Leicester, whose uncle travelled to Ipswich from Sweden to hand a written testimony to Judge Holt, was said by Mr Doyle to have achieved much in a competitive financial market before his decision to move to Spain, which he added was “not initially motivated by events that subsequently led to his downfall.”

He continued: “His conduct was completely uncharacteristic and he can say goodbye for all time to working in the financial sector upon his release.

In the meantime he will miss seeing his two young children grow up. They, like other loved ones, have become innocent victims in this case.”

In sentencing the pair, Judge Holt described their roles in the conspiracy as “joint chief executives.” He called the operation a “sophisticated and prolonged fraud which had as its victims ordinary people, many of whom lost their life savings.”

“No doubt you were both essential to running of this fraud from beginning to end. You made sure the companies were dressed up to appear to have value. The shares were then sold by salesmen who lied to potential investors who said the companies were about to float on an alternative market. But none ever did and 90% of all investment was taken in commission by the boiler rooms.”

Judge Holt praised the work of investigators after sentencing both Patel and Vidgeon to seven years - three-and-a-half of which they must serve in jail before being released on licence.

Three other defendants, Baldur Sigurdsson, Roland Pibworth and Craig John Clark were acquitted.

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