Fraudsters hit with record £6.1m order

Two brothers who made millions of pounds from innocent people in a betting scam were hit with a £6.1m confiscation order, one of the largest ever made.

The pair were brought to the attention of Merton’s trading standards team following complaints from residents.

Paul and Gregory Spicer from Brighton operated an elaborate betting tips service which saw them regularly moving around the UK setting up temporary offices with telephone lines offering betting advice. The decision was made at Lewes Crown Court (14 May), East Sussex following a three week hearing.

The brothers duped members of the public by mailing out thousands of professional looking brochures promising guaranteed profits if punters followed their tips. Some of the claims they made included returns of £50,000 on payment of a £49 joining fee and up to £500,000 for joining at £199.

As part of their deception the Spicer brothers also set up fictional characters claiming to have business studies degrees from Cambridge University and that their scheme was approved by the Financial Times. This led to many people across the UK parting with £2000 to £10,000 on the pretext of importing blood stock from Australia. It was brought to the attention of Merton’s trading standards team following complaints from residents.

In 2010 the pair were sentenced to seven years imprisonment for conspiring to defraud innocent residents. Following their conviction Merton’s trading standards team started proceedings under The Proceeds of Crime Act to track down and get back their ill-gotten gains. The investigation uncovered considerable efforts by the brothers to transfer money to off shore accounts in Hong Kong, Dubai and Switzerland. The Spicers have six months to pay or face returning to prison, serving an additional eight years, as well as still being liable to pay the £6.1m which will be distributed by the Home Office and used for crime reduction and community based projects.

Cabinet member for environmental cleanliness and parking, Councillor Judy Saunders said: “This is an outstanding result for our trading standards team who have shown great tenacity, dedication and professionalism during this case. We work hard within Merton to ensure criminals do not get away with ripping off law-abiding residents. This case shows we will use all the powers at our disposal to pursue anyone thinking of defrauding the public.”