Con man operating Marbella coloured diamond scam jailed for four years

Published:  20 Oct at 6 PM
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A gang of fraudsters who targeted UK pensioners living along Spain’s Costa del Sol in a coloured diamond scams are now all behind bars.

The gang of six, masterminded by Liverpudlian Adam Simmonds, operated a boiler room–style scam in the retirement hotspot of Marbella, hitting on unwary pensioners with offers of ‘rare’ coloured gemstones at hugely inflated prices. The pracitcally valueless diamonds were touted as an investment through the gang’s company, No 1 Gemstones.

Thousands of retiree Brits were cold-called with the offer of so-called rare coloured gems at bargain prices. Once caught in the fraudsters’ net, expats were sent professionally-produced glossy brochures which stated that HSBC bank had made an offer of £15 million for the entire collection.

In fact, mastermind Simmons had bought a bulk package of poor quality stones from a diamond merchant’s catalogue after setting up a UK business in Hove, Sussex. The gems were offered at a massive mark-up to unsuspecting buyers, netting some £1 million for the crooks in the year before the police caught up with them.

Five of the fraudsters, including ringleader Simmonds and his brother-in-law Adam Leach, were arrested and jailed in September. Charges including money laundering, fraudulent trading and conspiracy to defraud were brought, and jail times ranged between four months too six years.

The sixth gang member, John Bishop, mostly involved in one-to-one sales of the stones, was arrested and charged on his return from Spain. He received a four-year sentence after the judge rejected his defence that he had no idea he was involved in a scam.

A hearing in December will determine the amounts the gang will be forced to pay back to their victims. One such, a UK pensioner from Stoke, bought a small green diamond valued at £50 for a staggering £5,598 after he was told by Bishop that annual returns on its price increase would exceed 20 per cent.
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