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Elderly wine investors scammed by cold caller who sold off entire collections

first_imgThis was a sophisticated and an involved fraud which preyed on vulnerable and elderly victimsProsecutor Leo Seelig A wine company boss who cheated his clients out of their fine vintages is facing jail.Jonathan Piper, 30, was the sole director of Embassy Wine UK Ltd, which claimed to act as brokers for investors in fine wine.The company cold-called prospective investors and persuaded them to hand over control of their collections to Embassy, which then sold them and broke off contact.These “clients” were also made to pay fees before sales could be transacted. Victims took out bank loans, used credit cards and even cashed in pensions to pay the fees. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. At least five people lost up to £300,000 in the scam – one of whom lost £150,000 out of her life savings – which operated between June 2011 and October 2014.Piper used the cash from the con to fund a lavish lifestyle and spent almost £90,000 on a BMW X6 and Range Rover Sport.None of the income he generated between 2008 and 2014 – either legitimately or otherwise – was declared to HMRC, which was subsequently swindled out of £51,104 in income tax payments.Piper appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Tuesday, where he had been due to stand trial accused of fraud by false representation, cheating the Inland Revenue, fraudulent trading and two counts of converting criminal property.Prosecutor Leo Seelig said: “The prosecution would simply say that this was a sophisticated and an involved fraud which preyed on vulnerable and elderly victims.”The court heard that Piper, now working as a scaffolder, intended to borrow money from friends in order to repay a portion of the money, which he put at closer to £200,000, following his guilty pleas.”It is his hope that he will be able to reduce the amount that is owed to the victims before sentencing,” said Thomas Day, defending.center_img She added: “These offences, just one of them alone, is likely to attract a custodial sentence and for my part I cannot see any reason why Mr Piper should not begin that sentence as of now.”It would be unfair, in fact, for him to go out and come back knowing that there is a lengthy sentence that he will face and in those circumstances I refuse bail.”It is my decision and I appreciate that he has been entrusted with bail in the past but he must begin his sentence now.”Piper, of Wanstead, east London, admitted cheating the Inland Revenue, fraudulent trading and two counts of converting criminal property. He was remanded in custody ahead of sentence on September 16. Judge Louise Kamill said: “I have listened very carefully to Mr Day, but I am afraid I am not going to grant bail.”It seems to me before reparations are proposed, first of all, they will of course be taken into account by the sentencing court.”Secondly, these reparations are not going to be personally made by Mr Piper. He never has done and nothing has been done to date.”If people are intending to make a dent in the losses on his behalf, their efforts of course will be taken into account. But it does not devolve around Mr Piper.”He is not, himself as a scaffolder, going to get a loan of about £200,000 or however he is proposing to repay those losers.”last_img

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