Con man convicted of wine fraud
A con man who tricked his girlfriend and others out of £100,000 by pretending he was a successful international businessman has been found guilty of 22 counts of fraud.
Lasse Hartmann, 43, also claimed he had been in the Danish special forces and that he was knighted in his home country.
In reality he had moved to the UK after being released from a Danish prison for scamming his own father out of large sums of money.
He was found guilty today [06 April] at Snaresbrook Crown Court of 22 counts of fraud involving 20 people which were carried out between January 2014 and October 2015.
Many of his victims were persuaded to part with money for wine packages at a discount rate, which never materialised with Hartmann claiming they were "stuck in customs".
Some of them were asked to lend him money to pay for exporting the wine to the UK.
He also hired a driver, a personal assistant and a wedding planner, but broke promises to pay them, leaving them heavily out of pocket.
The direct loss to his victims was around £102,000 but the overall estimated business losses were more than £120,000.
CPS lawyer Abiodun Kadri said: "Lasse Hartmann was a committed con man who had no qualms about tricking people he came into contact with out of large sums of money to pay rent on his expensive homes and support his gambling habit.
"The prosecution case, which included bad character evidence, showed that far from a mistake that spiralled out of control, this was a determined attempt to trick victim after victim."
Lasse Hartmann [08/05/1973]:
- This case was prosecuted by CPS London North.
- Lived under the fake name of Lars Petraus. He showed his girlfriend fake bank accounts and rented Belgravia and Park Lane flats. He promised they would live in a £4.7m home in Barnes to convince her into lending him £13,900, purportedly to pay taxes to release his frozen 32m Euro fortune in Luxembourg. She had to resort to moving the couple in with her parents, borrowing money from a loan shark and from her sister to help him. When she later tried to recoup some money by selling her engagement ring, which she though was worth thousands of pounds, she discovered it was a fake worth just £20.
- Other victims were persuaded to part with money for wine packages at a discount rate, which never materialised with Hartmann claiming they were "stuck in customs".
- Persuaded another victim to become his personal assistant. She worked for free for two months and was left without £4,500 in salary. He also tricked her mother into paying £750 for non-existent tickets to the Monaco Grand Prix.
- Hired a personal driver, promising him up to £3,800 a month plus £35,000 to buy a Mercedes. He also tricked him out of his entire savings of £2,500 as an investment in fake wine bonds. His driver was left out of pocket by £22,958.60 in wages, expenses and his savings.
- Booked an expensive wedding planner for his upcoming £200,000 - £250,000 wedding but never paid.
- Promised to buy a business for £1.5m to persuade its owner to part with £19,667.60 in a loan.