Fraudsters who raked in £600,000 tricking old and vulnerable victims into buying non-existent diamonds to fuel their cocaine and alcohol habits are jailed for total of 14 years
- Three men from across London defrauded six people out of £613,580 in a scam
- Gilbert King, 49, Stephen Rogers, 55, and Bobby Sales, 31, pretended to have a successful firm selling diamonds to the Chinese but the stones did not exist
- Only one diamond worth £750 was ever purchased, but a buyer was billed £10k
Diamond fraudsters who raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds from tricking vulnerable customers whilst splashing their cash on cocaine have been jailed for a total of 14 years.
Customers were duped into spending tens of thousands of pounds as they were repeatedly reassured by conmen Gilbert King, 49, Stephen Rogers, 55, and Bobby Sales, 31, their investments were ‘doing well’.
In total, ten people lost £613,580.
Investors were told that the scheme involved buying diamonds on the cheap before selling them on for more money to Chinese bidders.
The men from across London, who set up sham company Stockdale Alternative went to great lengths to fool their clients.
Duped investor Stephen Oliver, told Southwark Crown Court how he was invited to a seminar in central London, where there would be representatives from De Beers as well as Hatton Garden jewellers.
Speaking of the impact of the fraud, Mr Oliver said: ‘These people have no idea of the devastation they have caused to my life – they have knocked me for six.’
Gilbert King leaving the court. The fraudster was today jailed for conning people into buying diamonds which did not exist
Company records show that only one diamond was ever purchased on behalf of a client of the men- who was billed £10,000 when the actual value of the gemstone was just £750.
Despite this, their website boasted of over 80 years of combined experience in the diamond trade.
The company also claimed to have offices in Brazil, Thailand and New York.
Buyers were provided with GIA, (Gemological Institute of America) industry standard diamond certificates pulled straight from the GIA’s website.
They claimed the diamonds would be stored in deposit boxes in Hatton Garden and then sold on by the company.
Two of the fraudsters took huge amounts of cocaine and alcohol as their outrageous claims of the investment potential of the stones continued.
King and Rogers denied fraud but were convicted, and Sales admitted his role in the scam.
Harry Bentley, defending Sales, said: ‘He has had a good deal of time to reflect on his actions and he is ashamed, to be blunt.
‘He accepts that he held the management position ascribed to him by the prosecution.
‘He was a user of cocaine and alcohol – he is now entirely sober and he has become a useful member of society.
‘The period he has been in prison for is the first time he has been sober for ten years.’
Mr Bentley went on to describe how Sales is the chair of the Alcoholics Anonymous group within prison and works as part of a programme to reduce violence within jail.
Sales, who earned £65,000 from the scam, wept as the details of his cocaine and alcohol addiction were read out in court.
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Defending Rogers, Natalie Csengeri, described her client as a man suffering from various mental and physical illnesses.
She said: ‘Although I have only had a small bit of time with Mr Rogers, he seems not so much nihilistic but depressive.
‘My client lived quite charmed life initially. He worked as a salesman for Lehman Brothers.’
But Rogers was beset by personal troubles and ‘he tried to destroy himself using drugs.’
Rogers, who worked for the company for around three months as a salesman and earned around £30,000.
Stephen Fiddler, defending King, who made around £110,000 from the fraud, said: ‘He is in a very substantial debt of up to £10,000 – he owes £3,000 to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for unpaid income tax.
‘Mr King has, of course, been very open that he knows that there has to be a prison sentence. He has expressed remorse that the victims have suffered and are indeed suffering.
Judge Jeffrey Pegden jailed Sales for four years Rogers for three and a half years and King for six and a half years.
‘The complete sham office upped sticks and disappeared at Christmas – this was fraudulent from the outset,’ the judge said.
‘The fraudulent trading offered so-called investments in so-called coloured diamonds to unsuspecting members of the public using pressure sales techniques and lies.
‘Those elderly, vulnerable victims were effectively milked.’
King was said to be the ‘controlling hand’ of the scam.
Stephen Rogers and his two accomplices pretended they could buy diamonds in Africa and Asia and sell them on for a profit in China
Prosecutor Mark Seymour said: ‘It was in the nature of what was going on to find those that were vulnerable.
‘Some of the people who lost out were old. Some of them described the extreme effects that this fraud had on their lives.’
Mr Seymour said investors were persuaded to invest further amounts and assured that their investments were doing very well.
‘When victims tried to realise their investments by instructing Stockdale Alternative to sell their diamonds, most were offered excuses or delaying tactics.
At the time of the fraud King was also claiming housing benefits and council tax relief from Barnet Council, it was said.
King, of Waverly Grove, Finchley, denied but was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and transferring criminal property.
Rogers, of Links Road, Tooting, denied one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by was found guilty yesterday a unanimous verdict.
Sales, of Brighton Road, South Croydon, admitted one count of conspiracy to commit fraud back in January.
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