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The Only Way Is Essex star Lewis Bloor allegedly used a fake name to con people involved in a £3 million diamond scam, Southwark Crown Court heard on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old allegedly posed as "Thomas Harkin" to convince investors to purchased the coloured stones allegedly at a 500-600% mark-up.
Imperial Assets Solutions (IAS) and Henderson & Forbes purported to be specialist brokers for people wanting to buy or sell investment grade stones and allegedly conned around 200 people, out of £3million, many of whom were elderly.
It was heard that Bloor was paid £150k by IAS which was shared out with others before he set his sights on his television career on the hit ITV2 reality show back in 2013.
Michael Williams, one of the alleged victims involved in the scam who bought a stone for £5,978.70, told the court of Bloor’s “very persistent style” which "subtly put pressure on me".
Following the purchase, he said Bloor was paid £896.81, or exactly 15% of the investment sum.
Bloor, of Buckhurst Hill, Essex, continues to deny conspiracy to defraud between May 7, 2013, and July 1, 2014.
Prosecutor David Durose QC added: “Mr Williams said he was made to feel that he was buying a valuable item at a fair market price which would quickly go up in value with little risk.
“These diamonds were marked up by five or six times so that’s probably about the sort of figure that IAS would have actually paid for the diamond,” he said.
“Fifteen per cent of the investment disappeared straight away, was not going anywhere near the price of the payment, and Mr Bloor knew that, of course, because he received that money.”
Bloor was said to be one of those with a “more central role in the fraud”, who sent scripts to those making the calls, the court heard.
Two such documents found in his home offered investors the “exciting opportunity” to buy rare coloured diamonds bought from the Argyle mine in Australia, which were about to “shoot up in value”, the court was told.
Bloor is on trial alongside Joseph Jordan, 29, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, George Walters, 29, from Beckenham, in Kent, Potter, of Enfield, Middlesex, Nathan Wilson, 28, of Brentwood, Essex, and Simon Akbari, 27, from Loughton, Essex, who also deny the charge.
Potential victims were cold-called and sent glossy brochures with quotations from De Beers and office addresses in a prestigious Canary Wharf skyscraper and Antwerp, the worldwide home of the diamond trade, the court heard.
It was heard they were sold the coloured diamonds as a genuine investment which would increase in value. But the stones, which were bought from a wholesaler and sold on with a mark-up of around 600%, could never have been a legitimate investment, it is alleged.
And claims were made of 21% returns in the previous year with a level of “exclusivity” suggested by reference to “two or three projects a year”, the court heard.
The prosecutor argued: “In reality, IAS did not have two or three projects a year, but rather sold over 100 diamonds very quickly in six months.”
“Every IAS client who has given a witness statement lost their money and there is no evidence of any client making money.”
The trial continues.
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