Property developer jailed for defrauding investors

28/05/2014

A property developer who set up a Ponzi style scheme which cheated investors out of nearly half a million pounds has today been sentenced to six years and five months at Stafford Crown Court after he pleaded at an earlier hearing to fraud

Mark William Lewis, aged 50, worked as a financial advisor and estate agent in Cannock, and between 2006 and 2009, he began to trade as a property developer and sought out investors who he promised a safe secure investment with high returns of interest.

The defendant pitched the notion to his investors that he was buying up derelict properties, repairing them to a high specification and then selling them on for a profit.

To fund his venture, he required capital and began offering investors unrealistic returns of anything between 10% to 30% if they invested in his business.

Over a three year period, Lewis convinced nearly 40 victims, who were mainly his family members, friends and customer into investing £478,000. Rather than use this money to support his business, he used it to finance a high standard of living with only small amounts being used to pay his investors as interim payments.

When investors failed to receive their money and the promised returns, Lewis was reported to the police.

On 6 May 2014 at Stafford Crown Court, the defendant pleaded guilty to 16 counts of fraud.

John Bristow, Acting Sector Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said:

"Motivated by greed, Mark Lewis used highly corrupt methods to defraud investors, which included his own family members and close friends, out of thousands of pounds. Some victims lost their life savings due to his actions.

"Under the guise of a property development investment, the defendant set up a Ponzi style scheme and manipulate his victims into investing in his business.

"Rather than use the money for its intended purpose, Lewis syphoned the money to pay some investors interim payments, but he used the majority of the funds to finance his lifestyle expenses.

"The CPS will now take steps to recover the amount stolen."