Boiler room scam: Graham Mills jailed for seven years
A man has been jailed for seven years after conning investors out of millions of pounds in a boiler room scam.
Graham Mills, 48, previously of Swinton, Greater Manchester, admitted cheating hundreds of people from across the world by persuading them to invest in fake companies.
The scam was uncovered in 2009 when a fraud victim from Ilkeston, Derbyshire, contacted police.
Detectives discovered one Norwegian man had lost the equivalent of £2.49m.'Convincing websites'
Nottingham Crown Court heard Mills, who was arrested at Manchester Airport in 2012, had worked with accomplices in Thailand for the past 10 years.
What is a boiler room scam?
- A 'boiler room' involves conmen cold-calling potential investors using high pressure tactics to dupe victims into buying worthless shares
- The criminal gangs set up companies, websites and bank accounts to convince victims they are investing in legitimate companies or buying commodities such as gold
- The term refers to the often hastily-arranged, underground nature of such operations
- Several films have been based around stories of boiler room scams. These include the 1992 adaptation of Glengarry Glen Ross and the 2000 Ben Affleck film named Boiler Room
The gang cold-called victims and asked them to invest in two fake companies: Regal & Archer LLC and Quantum Holdings Ltd.
To make the businesses appear legitimate, the group set up convincing websites that were linked to genuine investment companies.
The court heard Mills was instrumental in setting up and running the fake companies and websites and had control of bank accounts which investors paid into.
The bank accounts were found to contain about £3.7m.
Mills admitted three charges of conspiracy to defraud between November 2007 and September 2012, conspiracy to convert criminal property and concealing criminal property.
Derbyshire Police were alerted to the operation when an Ilkeston man told them he had handed over thousands of pounds to people claiming to be from an investment company called Milton Hayward, based in Japan.
A four-year police investigation uncovered hundreds of victims from the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.
One Norwegian man lost the equivalent of $4m and a woman from North Yorkshire invested £850,000 in the fake companies.
Mills is the third person to be convicted as part of the investigation.
Paul Slack, 34, was jailed for two-and-a-half-years in July 2012 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
Andrea Davison, 63, from Y Felinheli, north Wales, was convicted in her absence of 26 offences, including theft, false accounting, possession of articles for use in a fraud and making or supplying articles for use in a fraud.
Det Con Pete Freeman, who led the investigation, said: "Mills was instrumental in setting up the websites that victims were directed to look at in order to persuade them to invest.
"The guilty plea will go a long way to the dismantling of the crime group being operated from Thailand.
However this investigation continues and further suspects will be brought to justice."
- This story was updated on 11/11/13 after an earlier version incorrectly reported that Andrea Davison was convicted of conspiracy to defraud.