Earlier this month, Aaron Petrou was jailed was three years and eight months after admitting conspiracy to defraud through a two scams involving land banking and carbon credits. Using the false name of Giles Beaumont to sell Carbon Credits (under the guise of ‘Green Investments’), Petrou netted a £1.7m from almost 70 people.
According to the Investigating officer on the case, Det Sgt Richard Ward, the fraud involved the use of aggressive and persistent sales tactics to exploit vulnerable members of the public, motivated purely by greed and with a total disregard for the emotional and financial impact the losses would have upon the victims.
In addition to this, it also appears that Petrou was a key figure at a company called ‘Plott UK’, another scam which managed to dupe more than 100 investors into investing in worthless land positioned as ‘prime development opportunities.
Petrou was jailed in 2015 for five years for his role in the land fraud scam that cost its victims more than £4m, a scheme described by the Judge as being both ‘subtle’ and ‘cruel’. Alongside Petrou, the company accountant, Daniel Forsyth was also jailed for four years for the carbon credit scam, have previously received two years for the Plott UK land bank fraud.
These frauds were sophisticated and clearly highly successful – although the perpetrators have been jailed, the odds of the money being recovered is slim – most likely, it has been spent or transferred off-shore.
If you’re cold-called by an investment salesman, or if you receive unsolicited emails and literature, be careful. There’s no such thing as a free lunch and these scams are prevalent and sophisticated. Take the time to carry out your due diligence and if you’re still unsure about what it is you’re investing in, walk away. There will always be another opportunity. As a wise man once said, a fool and his money are easily parted. Make sure you\’re not the fool.