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The Role of The Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

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Man convicted of £1.3m 'ponzi scheme' fraud

12/02/2014

Matthew Ames has today been found guilty of two counts of fraudulent trading following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court. Ames was the sole director of two companies which were found to have been operating a large scale 'ponzi scheme', defrauding investors out of more than £1.35m over a three year period.

Mr Ames set up two companies, Forestry for Life and The Investors' Club, with the sole purpose of defrauding investors for personal profit; both companies claimed to invest money in teak tree plantations that generated carbon credits, which could then be traded for profit. Mr Ames' method was to create an enticing prospectus which offered high and regular returns for investors, a good exit strategy should they need their capital back and the added attraction that they would be investing ethically and helping the environment. In truth there was no investment by the companies, simply the use of the monies to pay company expenses and support Ames' lifestyle.

Specialist fraud lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service, Antony Swift, said: "Matthew Ames was a devious and conniving fraudster with no regard for his victims. He seemed to revel in his ability to exploit others for personal profit, and had no shame in spending his ill-gotten gains in an extravagant and ostentatious fashion.

"Out of the £1.6m that was invested across both companies, only £250,000 was ever returned to investors. The rest went directly into the pocket of Matthew Ames, funding his profligate spending habits. Among the extravagant purchases made by Mr Ames with other people's money were £7,000 spent renting a villa on the Caribbean island of St Vincent as well as a substantial payment to fund the long-term hire of a Lamborghini.

"Any employees who questioned the legitimacy of Mr Ames' companies quickly had their employment terminated, showing that Mr Ames would stop at nothing to try to ensure his fraudulent activity would continue undetected. Indeed, at the time of his arrest, with his existing businesses no longer attracting investment, Mr Ames was in the process of setting up a new company, the Carbon Neutral Business Directory.

"This case is very clear evidence that fraud is not a victimless crime; it is a crime that has a significant impact on victims whether they are individuals, businesses or the taxpayer. We are pleased to see that justice has been done for Matthew Ames' many victims today."

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are four national casework divisions: Central Fraud, Welfare Rural & Health, Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. A 'virtual' 14th Area is CPS Direct which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2013 we employed a workforce of approximately 6840 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2350 prosecutors and 4110 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  4. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.