Posted: Apr 02, 2017
A director of a wine broker company who cheated vulnerable investors out of almost half a million pounds to fund his lavish lifestyle has been jailed for four years and four months.
Customers of Harry Mosley and his team lost entire portfolios or vast amounts of money when they signed up to his company Optimum Fine Wine. They were promised financial profit in return for buying, swapping or selling wine through the firm initially bankrolled by Mosley's parents.But the clients, many of whom were in their 80s, received little or no money from sales of their own wine collections.
The vintage Bordeaux wine they believed they had purchased never materialised.Instead, 25-year-old Mosley 'cut and run', spending his victims' investments totalling £424,352 on living the high life.He spent £100,000 at lavish bars, restaurants and hotels, as well as buying luxury goods, designer clothes, paintings and a Mulberry bag.
He also gambled over £57,000 over 16 months, took a holiday in Dubai and gave his then-girlfriend £23,320.There was also evidence in his bank account that he paid himself £112,000 and sold a Bentley car.
Wine broker 'cheated victims as old as 85 out of £450,000...
Mosley, of Keston, Kent, enjoyed his good fortune at the expense of his customers who he saw as 'names on paper'.
Some of them lost entire wine portfolios after they were sold on by Optimum Fine Wine to wholesalers.
One 84-year-old victim, a retired college lecturer living in a care home, handed Mosley's company over £205,000 for wine to be purchased and held in storage.
Mosley (pleaded guilty to four offences of conspiracy to commit fraud
However, no wine was ever bought and the widower lost the money he had accrued from the sale of his flat following his wife's death. The court heard he is still too embarrassed to tell anyone of his plight.
Another who agreed to swap his collection with others through Optimum Fine Wine transferred more than £56,000 in wine, only to have just two cases delivered to his account and leaving him with a loss of just over £49,000.
Mosley was on trial at Maidstone Crown Court in Kent accused of two offences of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation but pleaded guilty midway through.
Judge Charles Macdonald QC said Mosley's fraud affected a large number of victims and deliberately targeted people based on their vulnerability.
Judge Macdonald said: 'The striking and awful thing about this case is to see from the victim impact statements how widespread and in some cases how unexpected this sort of crime was.
Judge Charles Macdonald QC said Mosley's fraud was a 'heartless and cruel' fraud which 'gravely damaged a number of lives' 'This was a sustained, planned, multiple victim fraud, and also a heartless and cruel one which gravely damaged a number of lives.'Mosley blew a kiss to his father sitting in the public gallery and gave a thumbs-up sign as he was led from court to the cells.
A total of 15 customers were duped by Mosley's company between September 2012 and May 2014. Two died while waiting for a trial to start and others were said to have little or no memory of their dealings with the brokers by reason of their age. The youngest was 57 and the oldest 87.
Prosecutor Dale Sullivan said: 'This case doesn't involve ill-advice that led to poor investment. It is based solely on engaging the trust of customers to invest and then cutting and running from them.
'If it wasn't fraudulent from the outset when Harry Mosley went to his parents to get the £61,000 loan, it must have been very soon after.'Mosley is alleged to have spent more than £100,000 on lavish bars, restaurants and hotels. He was arrested and interviewed by police on three separate occasions, each time making no comment
Those who became suspicious or tried to complain ended up 'with the trail going cold,' the court was told, and so alerted police.
As well as buying, selling and swapping wine, the fraud also involved duping customers into buying Robert Parker collectors' cases at over-inflated prices running into several thousands.
Optimum Fine Wine was first based in Croydon, Surrey before moving to Wellington House in Church Road, Tunbridge Wells.
But the company was listed at an address in New Bond Street, London - which gave it an 'air of prestige and legitimacy'.
The scam was also supported by glossy brochures 'full of lies' and false testimonials.
Customers spoke of dealing with brokers who were plausible and professional, and knew the answers to any questions.
Mosley was arrested and interviewed by police on three occasions, each time making no comment.
On one occasion he even refused to confirm his own name.
By the time police were called in, Optimum Fine Wine's own wine storage account with LCB was empty.
Craig Harris, defending, said Mosley had not deliberately targeted vulnerable people and did not realise at the time the impact of his conduct on his victims.
He said: 'It was greed, he got used to the high life and carried it on. He didn't see them as people. They were just names on paper.'
A confiscation hearing will be held at a later date. The judge also ordered the destruction of company computers and Mosley's iPhone and iPad.
Two of Mosley's team, Bradley Deadman, 23, and 22-year-old Lewis Hearson, were cleared of any involvement in the fraud.
Deadman was said to have been Mosley's right-hand man, who used the 'broker' name of Henry Croft. Mosley himself referred to him as Crafty Crofty and gave him the business title of Hong Kong chief executive.
By Luke Barnes
April 1, 2017
Source: Daily Mail
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