A crooked gem dealer who conned elderly investors into buying over-priced diamonds with their life savings as part of a £1m fraud is facing jail.
John Bishop, 32, cold-called scores of victims from his sales office in Marbella to promise sky high returns on their money. The year-long scam was masterminded by Bishop’s friend Adam Simmons, 28, and was based at the No.1 Gems firm in Hove.
One of their victims was a retired police officer who spent £140,000 on coloured stones worth little more than £10,000.
Simmons was jailed in September last year along with his father Michael, brother-in-law Adam Leach and colleague Lee Miller. Bishop was not arrested until October after returning to the UK from Spain.
He denied involvement in the fraud but was convicted of conspiracy to defraud and transferring criminal property after a trial at the Old Bailey.
Judge Andrew Lees said he would sentence Bishop at Woolwich Crown Court on September 15.
No1 Gems was set up in 2011 and conned a total of £1m from investors until it was raided by police in September 2012.
Jurors heard victims of the scam were sent glossy brochures and told HSBC bank had agreed to buy the entire stock of No1 Gems for £15m.
All the gems had been purchased from a diamond catalogue before being given huge mark-ups.
Prosecutor David Durose said, “Basically, No1 Gems were engaged in what is known as a boiler room fraud.
“It is a specific type of fraud in which individuals are targeted with cold calling and pressured into making purchases of items such as shares, equities or financial instruments - or in this case, diamonds. They marked up the price by eight, ten or even up to nearly 30 times in order to determine the price they would be sold for.”
Bishop, of Queens Road, Felixstowe, denied conspiracy to defraud and fraudulent trading and transferring criminal property. He was cleared of fraudulent trading on the direction of the judge but was convicted of the other two charges. Adam Simmons, who used his £200,000 share of the profits to pay for a luxury lifestyle in Marbella, was sentenced to six years imprisonment. Michael Simmons, 54, was jailed for two-and-a-half years, Leach, 30, was jailed for four years and Miller, 33, was jailed for three years and four months. Adam Simmons, of Booth Street, Old Swan, Liverpool; Michael Simmons, of Lion Hill, Stone Cross, and Leach, of Hambleton Close, Eastbourne, all denied conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and two counts of fraudulent trading and were convicted.
Miller, of Sackville Road, Bexhill, admitted a count of fraudulent trading.