Conman jailed - Borehamwood

01/08/2014

Conman James Browne, who tricked investors out of over £400,000 in a bogus land deal, was jailed for 33 months today, Friday, 01 August 2014.

Browne, aged 27, and a co-defendant set up Gold Leaf Associates and used hard sell techniques to persuade customers to part with tens of thousands of pounds.

Ann Evans prosecuting for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told St Albans Crown Court that the company bought a plot of land in Grantham, Lincs for £21,000 and claimed it was likely to get planning permission for homes and would generate a 200 per cent profit. In fact, she said, the permission to develop the land had been refused in 1980 and the land was worthless. One customer who bought a "plot" in Grantham was also persuaded to invest in land in Bromley, Kent that did not exist.

Six men lost money in the scam - one was tricked out of £291,000. Herts Police launched an investigation when they were contacted by one of the victims who lives in Borehamwood.

Browne, of Locksley Close, Byfleet, Surrey, pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading between July 2010 and January 2012. He had 8 convictions for 19 previous offences.

Defending, Franco Tizzanao, said Gold Leaf had not been a sham company from the outset.

Judge Marie Catterson said: "The prosecution accept the company was not set up to be a vehicle for fraud, but it is clear it became so in a fairly short period of time."

Browne was also banned from being a company director for 7 years. The co-defendant will be sentenced at a later date.

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