Ponzi fraudsters jailed for total of 20 years


Three Ponzi fraudsters who fleeced investors out of £79.5milion and blew the cash on 'Bentleys, yachts and million pound houses' were jailed for a total of 20 years today.

Spencer Steinberg, 46, Michael Strubel, 54, and Jolan Saunders, 40, claimed they had won a contract to supply electrical goods to the Olympic Village ahead of the 2012 London games.

They said Saunders Electrical Wholesalers Limited (SEWL) also supplied goods such as including trouser presses and kettles to major hotel chains.

But SEWL was just a shabby high street electrical retailer in east London – a ‘one man and a van operation’.

Saunders and Strubel were both jailed for seven years while Steinberg was jailed for six years and nine months at Southwark Crown Court.

Speaking in court on Tuesday Judge Michael Grieve QC said: “Over the four years a total of about £78million was received fraudulently from some 91 investors in ever increasing amounts.

“You did repeatedly and over time extract from them ever mounting funds that were necessary to feed the fraud and keep it afloat.

“Amongst smaller investors were many who lost more than they could afford.”

Jane de Lozey, joint head of fraud at the Serious Fraud Office said:“This was a particularly pernicious crime where vulnerable investors from within the fraudsters’ own communities were targeted for huge sums, including, in some instances, their life savings.”

Mr Grieve said that not all investors were victims of the fraudsters noting one who had made a £2 million profit which helped encourage others to invest.

He said: “It is in the nature of a Ponzi scheme that there will be winners as well as losers when the music stops.”

He told Suanders who he described as the “Lynchpin” of the operation, “you are a confidence trickster of the very highest skill.

“The fraud that was SEWL was your brainchild and it was you who was able to convince almost everyone that it was a business of tens of millions.”

Talking to Strubel, who was said to have gained £2.8 million from fraud, Mr Grieve said: “You fell or succumbed to the wealthy lifestyle and the admiration from your peers that you thought a wealthy lifestyle would bring.”

Steinberg was said to have earned £1.8million while no figure was given for Saunders’ profits.

Victims were persuaded to invest hundreds of thousands over a period of two months so SEWL could meet urgent orders, then paid seemingly sky-high returns.

They were then asked if they would 'roll over' their investment for another two months.

The trio used bogus accounts to impress clients into parting with their cash.

Two investors parted with £2m after being shown fake company invoices that showed they were supplying the Olympic Village.

Others were fooled after Saunders started using doctored invoices from the Park Plaza chain of hotels that suggested they were a major supplier.

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