UK and expat investors stymied by untimely death of scammer

Published:  29 Sep at 6 PM
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An expat fraudster working in the UK and Spain has died unexpectedly, leaving her investor victims unable to trace millions of euros.

Wendy Smart, also known as Wendy Jeffery, died before the estimated four million euros of investor money could be located. The fraudster persuaded dozens of expats in Spain as well as UK residents to invest in one scheme involving producing black truffles and another involving tree planting. Both were ‘guaranteed’ to produce huge returns for money invested.

According to an investigative journalist working for a respected English language newspaper in Spain, the truffles scheme never got off the ground and the amount spent by Smart proved questionable as the only visible results were a slick website and glossy brochures. Results of the initial tree-planting scheme were similar, with trees dying and the scammer retreating to Valencia and conning more victims by saying growing conditions were superior in the new region.

In 2014 the entire scam was exposed by the newspaper, including the fact that the land deal for the trees was illegal and that Smart’s staff and contractors had not received payment. As a result, an action group was started in an attempt to trace the missing money suspected to be located offshore.

One hapless victim told reporters he had invested £20,000 in Smart’s now defunct Parkview company, and had been persuaded to introduce other investors on a commission basis. At first, he noted transfers to his bank account, but these soon stopped and he realised he’d been scammed.

He believes investments in both scams total around four million euros and are secreted in an offshore jurisdiction Attempts made to contact Smart’s husband since her death was announced are so far unsuccessful, meaning it’s likely the millions lost will never be located.

As with the many other investment scams involving expats across the world, it’s proving impossible to get summary justice for those who’ve lost their savings to these crooks.
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