Scammers jailed for £3m land banking fraud that tricked hundreds across the country

FIVE people have been jailed for a combined total of 29 years for being part of a £3m land banking fraud which scammed more than 300 victims from across the country.

Land banking fraud involves investors being contacted with cold calls, mail shots, brochures or websites and encouraged to purchase plots of land in the belief they are investing in land that will significantly increase in value.

The fraud related to the involvement of five people, three of whom are from St Helens, with Land Banking (UK) Plc and Land Strategy Limited.
The sales pitch sought to convince the investors that the land for sale could get planning permission when in reality the plots of land had no development potential or the land was situated in green belt areas and was unlikely to be granted planning permission.

The case relates to parcels of land in Warwickshire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Derbyshire, involving more than 300 investors with a financial loss of around £3m.

Pensioners, vicars and business people had been encouraged to invest in the scheme using their pensions. In one incident, compensation money, received as a result of an attack that left the investor blind,was lost.

The five defendants were convicted on Monday following an 11-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

They were sentenced today for conspiracy to defraud:

• Timothy Wren, 39, of Wargrave Road, Newton-le-Willows was sentenced to eight years in prison
• John (Jack) Chandler, 59, of Clock Face, was sentenced to seven years in prison
• Jeanette Chandler, 60, of Clock Face, was sentenced to four years in prison
• Kevin Hilton, 40, of Oak Drive, Burscough was sentenced to six years in prison
• Alfred Arthur, 56, of Deepdale, Leigh, Lancashire was sentenced to four years in prison

The investigation was prompted by complaints from around the country from small businesses and individuals saying they had been tricked into purchasing land for far more than its real value.
Detectives believe more than 300 victims were taken in by the sales pitch and paid over the odds for land worth a fraction of the price they paid.

Following today’s sentencing hearing, Clive Myerscough, fraud investigator from Merseyside Police, said: “Timothy Wren, John Chandler and Jeanette Chandler were in charge of a team of sales people who specialised in trawling through huge lists of businesses and potential investors and cold-calling them or sending mail shots in the hope they would take them up on their fraudulent offers of land.

“They played on people’s trust, telling investors a pack of lies about the possible resale value of the land which couldn’t have been further from the truth.

“It was an indiscriminate, scatter gun approach which saw victims from Merseyside to Warwickshire contacted and enticed into spending their hard-earned money.

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