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Fraudulent foreign exchange trader pleads guilty to a multi-million investment scam

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A fraudulent foreign exchange trader has today pleaded guilty to a multi-million international investment scam.

After emailing his clients and telling them he had not been trading with their investments since 2009, Joseph Lewis, 65, went to a police station, told them what he had done, and was arrested.

Lewis explained about the Ponzi scheme he had been running for the past decade and told them how he’d taken millions from people who thought they were investing in foreign exchange trading.

Based in Turkey, Lewis attracted clients across the globe to invest in Foreign Exchange Trading, when actually it was a scam.

Clients of Joe Lewis Trading were sent monthly reports, which looked as though their investments were doing exceptionally well and encouraged investors to either invest more, or recommend the company to friends and family.

City of London police found that the monthly reports were false, as investors’ money was paid into Lewis’ personal accounts.

With ATM cards which investors with larger portfolios could use across the world and lavish events, Lewis created the illusion that his company was successfully trading when actually he was using investors’ money on these events and to pay clients.

In 2013 when clients requested withdrawal of their money, they were met with delays and ultimately a failure to return the funds, except to investors who had threatened legal action.

Having used his final client’s investment of £279,000, Lewis was forced to admit to his investors that the funds were gone.

Today, Lewis has admitted his responsibility for the £2.2million Ponzi scheme, pleading guilty to 19 fraud offences at Southwark Crown Court.

Anamarie Coomansingh of the CPS, said: “Lewis netted a huge amount of money from people who came from all walks of life and believed it was a good use of their savings and pensions.

“Many of these investors have suffered significant losses because of their involvement with Lewis’ scheme and it is clear that he manipulated a lot of people with the false picture he painted of his ‘trading.’

“Most of the money investors gave to Lewis appears to have been spent on funding his lifestyle, paying back early investors in his scheme and making risky investments which failed.  We will continue to try to identify assets that could be made available to compensate his victims.”

Detective Sergeant Lee Nelson, from the City of London Police, said: “Lewis is an extremely manipulative and dishonest man. He knew his victims were investing money to save towards retirement or to make a better life for their young family, and instead he used their money to fund his own extravagant lifestyle. He also used their funds to put on impressive events and meetings across the world.

“I can’t even begin to describe the devastating impact this has had on people’s lives, many of whom will never be able to recover financially and psychologically. Lewis has destroyed marriages, family bonds and friendships, as these fraudulent investments often came from peer-to-peer recommendations.

“I hope that the sentence passed down to Lewis will leave him with nothing but time in jail to reflect on his deceitful and greedy actions.”

Notes to editors

Anamarie  Coomansingh is a specialist prosecutor in the Specialist Fraud Division at the CPS
Joseph Lewis (10/02/1955) pleaded guilty to 19 counts of fraud by false representation. He will be sentenced on 9 October
More information on the Specialist Fraud Division at the CPS.

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