A fraudster responsible for a £20.5m Ponzi-style investment scam has been jailed for 5 years and 4 months at Southwark Crown Court after a six year investigation.
Joseph Lewis, 65, of Thearne Lane, Yorkshire, ran a fraudulent investment scheme for a decade and pleaded guilty to 19 counts of fraud by false representation in September.
Many of the victims of his Ponzi-style fraud were saving for retirement and some were rumoured to include professional footballers and golfers.
More than 800 people were ripped off and many investors were in their 70s and 80s and left in financial ruin.
Instead of investing the money in foreign exchange transactions Mr Lewis’s company transferred the funds to his personal accounts and he spent the money on a lavish lifetyle, paying some investors back when he had to or investing in his own risky investments.
His conviction follows a six year investigation by the City of London Police.
He persuaded clients around the world to invest large sums in foreign exchange trading but kept the money. While he had clients all over the world most were British.
Clients of Joe Lewis Trading were sent monthly reports claiming to show their investments were doing well.
Clients were encouraged by the positive reports to either invest more money or recommend the scheme to friends or family. City of London Police later found that the monthly reports were fabricated.
As early as 2012, some of Lewis’ clients requested the withdrawal of their money but were met with delays and failure to return the funds, City of London police said. He only returned money to investors who threatened legal action.
Mr Lewis only admitted to investors their funds were gone when he had used all of the money he had fraudulently obtained and was no longer receiving payments from current, or new, clients.
Shortly after emailing his clients in December 2014 and telling them he had not been trading with their investments since 2009, he phoned the police and admitted what he had done. He was arrested by City of London Police in April 2015.
Detective Sergeant Lee Nelson, of the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Department, said: “Lewis is an extremely manipulative and dishonest man.
“He knew his victims were investing money to save towards retirement or to make a better life for their families but instead he used their money to fund his own extravagant lifestyle. He also used their funds to put on lavish events and meetings across the world.
“I can’t even begin to describe the devastating impact this has had on people’s lives, many of whom will never be able to recover financially and psychologically. Lewis has destroyed marriages, family bonds and friendships, as these fraudulent investments often came from peer-to-peer recommendations.”