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A “relentless fraudster” who pocketed £2.3million in a cold-calling scam that saw elderly people lose their retirement funds has been jailed for nine years.
Conman Clint Canning and his wife Eleise Wallace lived a “lavish lifestyle” enjoying luxury holidays and buying expensive watches, Southwark Crown Court heard. Now they face losing their £1m farmhouse near Chelmsford, Essex, the court heard, as it is about to be repossessed.
Canning, 45, convinced his victims to place bets on company share or asset prices with the false promise of big returns if they guessed correctly. The practice is now illegal but was allowed at the time of the 2014 fraud.
Canning, originally from Dublin, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud while Wallace, 37, was acquitted of that charge but found guilty of laundering £900,000 of the ill-gotten gains.
At a sentencing hearing today (Fri), a judge said the scam had left many of the 172 victims “unable to retire or put their children through university”. At least one married couple scammed by Canning have split up because of the scam, the court heard. Around 60 per cent of the victims were aged 50 and above.
Judge Chris Hehir said Canning was an “enthusiastic scammer who despises the people he scams” and had “utter contempt” for his victims.
The court heard Canning was involved in setting up the company Base2Trade in June 2014 to run the so-called ‘Boiler Room’ scam. It was said Canning and Wallace, of Barnston, Dunmow, fled to a “north Cyprus bolthole” in June 2015 when the fraud was discovered but later returned to the country.
Jailing Canning for nine years, the judge said: “The company was a scam from the get-go and designed to relieve unfortunate customers of as much of their money as possible over the shortest period of time.”
He said the fraud had many features of a Boiler Room scam – including high pressure sale tactics, cold-calling of vulnerable victims, often retired people, making “ridiculous” promises of profits and the use of false names by staff. The judge said Canning had rented prestigious offices in London to convince potential investors the business was legitimate.
He said Canning had a “bewildering array” of companies.
He told Canning: “You are somebody who is always on the lookout for the opportunity to scam people in whatever ways you can.
“You are a relentless fraudster who lies readily and fluently – if not always persuasively. I formed a clear view from your evidence that you have nothing but contempt for those you defrauded.”
The judge told Wallace she was a “lucky woman” as he handed her a two year sentence suspended for two years. She must also carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Hehir told her: “You knew – how could you possibly not know – Clint Canning was a fraudster and this money was the proceeds of fraud.
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