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Lewis Bloor is alleged to have been part of a multi-million-pound scam before he found fame on ITVBe's The Only Way Is Essex, a court has heard.

The reality star, 32, has denied conspiracy to defraud between May 7, 2013, and July 1 2014 at Southwark Crown Court.

Lewis who joined the reality programme in 2013 is on trial alongside several other people, who are said to have conned more than 200 victims into buying small coloured stones.

A court heard that the ring had "told lies" to their victims, claiming the coloured stones were an investment.

The alleged fraud is said to relate to two companies, Imperial Assets Solutions and Henderson & Forbes, which were involved in selling coloured diamonds.

Speaking in court, prosecutor David Durose QC said: "Each one of these six defendants was involved in both, with one exception, Lewis Bloor, who left at some point in 2013 to pursue a career in television.

"In total, over 200 people were conned into buying coloured diamonds and the companies defrauded those people out of a total of well over £3 million."

Durose added that many of the victims who spoke to police were elderly and had been "encouraged" to part with a large sum from their savings or pensions.

He continued: "All of those involved tell a similar story, every single one of them has lost their money."

The court heard how both companies claimed to be specialist brokers for people wanting to buy or sell investment-grade stones, with brochures boasting of an "outstanding track record of meeting the needs of our clients."

Those hoping to invest were later called by salesmen who used fake names before selling the diamonds as an investment opportunity, the jury heard.

The Press Association claims that most of the helpless victims never saw their precious stones as they were carefully stored in Geneva while victims made payments via a law firm or accountancy firm to provide legitimacy.

David Durose told the jury that the diamonds had been purchased from a wholesaler and sold on with a mark-up of around 600 per cent, an eyewatering £5,000 investment.

However, the resale price would inevitably be less than their initial investment of £750 and were "valueless" the court heard.

“Invariably, that would be more than the diamond was actually worth,” Mr Durose added.

The trial continues on Tuesday

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