A Ponzi-style fraudster who describes himself as a letting agent and property buyer has been jailed for two years and eight months.
Police said the fact that he had a property business made him credible to his victims, and that the scam had not just robbed people of money but ruined lives.
Peter Stanley, 46, claimed to be a highly successful property guru, but he was in fact made bankrupt five years ago.
He told investors that their money – on which he would pay a high rate of interest – would be used to buy homes that would be refurbished and then rented or sold on at a profit.
Altogether, investors paid £368,000, but Stanley, of Manchester, never bought any homes and the money was mainly used to repay other investors.
Admitting 16 fraud charges at Manchester Crown Court, Stanley was described in mitigation as a Christian whose investment scheme “went tragically off the rails”.
However, the judge, Mr Recorder Rigby, told him: “You are an intelligent and capable man who knew what he was about – you wanted to make large profits for yourself.”
Stanley’s crimes came to light after the Insolvency Service looked at his activities and alerted police.
Detective Constable John Lonsdale said after the sentencing: “Peter Stanley told lies in order to get people to invest in his scheme. He promised them a high rate of interest when savers with banks were receiving very low returns on their investments.
“Having a property business separate from this scheme gave his fraudulent private investors scheme some credibility, and this was one of the main reasons people invested with him.
“Had the investigators at the insolvency service not seen the criminality and referred it through to Greater Manchester Police, Stanley would have got away with his deception. He has now been sent to prison and will have time there to reflect on what he has done.”
Jane Andrews, deputy Official Receiver, said: “As a result of his 2011 bankruptcy, Mr Stanley’s affairs were subject to investigation by the Insolvency Service.
“The investment scheme was funded entirely by investments from individual savers, some of whom entrusted him with their life savings. Eventually the official receiver referred suspected criminal activity to the Greater Manchester Economic Crime Unit.
“The outcome of the Official Receiver’s investigations and co-operation with the police illustrate the invaluable work undertaken by the Insolvency Service in its regulatory role and reinforces the adage that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
Stanley had claimed: “A successful property investor in my own right, I also help others achieve property investment success.”
On his Linked In profile, Stanley described himself as: “A property buyer, letting agent, lover of landlords (in a platonic way), connector, petrolhead, fixer, runner/jogger, cyclist, Manchester lad, glass half full kind of guy who’s often found smiling for no reason.”
His profile gives his current experience as manager of Rent my Home, and an employee of Property Made Simple.
The Rent my Home website was at the weekend labelled “down for maintenance”, while the Property Made Simple domain was being advertised as up for sale.
Rent my Home is unconnected to any business with a similar name.
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