Father and son who ran £5 million scam jailed

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A father and son who lived the life of riley while conning victims out of £5 million have been jailed.
The two, Keith and Lee Wharton, both from Leeds, bought yachts and luxury cars while their investors lived in poverty.
Those scammed out of their money lost pensions and savings they had built up over their lifetime.
Keith, 60, was said to be the man in charge of a number of frauds, including one where potential investors flew out to Panama to attend a seminar called Secrets of the Super Rich.
The gang involved was jailed for 34 years in total after the judge said that they had cheated people out of hard earned money.
The judge said they left a trail of financial ruin behind them while they were sunning themselves on their yachts in Spain, and driving around in Aston Martins, Lamborghinis and Maseratis.
The scam went on for eight years. In one operation, Keith managed to persuade a number of people to invest in land in Panama after saying that he was a commercial property expert who had made a billion from his own investments.
Investors put money in land through a syndicate and were told that they would double their cash in just a year.
Prosecuting, Andrew Haslam said that 30 investors had put in a total of £2.8 million in that particular scam.
Mr Haslam added: ‘None of them received any return on their investment. Indeed, nobody even received their investment back. None of it went to buy land in Panama. Instead, Keith and Lee Wharton used it to fund their lavish lifestyles.”

Leeds solicitor Stephen Pickard was found to have helped the scam by putting up barriers to prevent the investors from regaining their money.

The court was told that one victim, a piano teacher from London, had ploughed £230,000 into the scheme and lost everything he had.
Pickard is said to have helped the scam by making threats to take legal action against them if they pushed Wharton for their cash back.

Wharton was also found to have been in charge of other scams, which lost money totalling £1.7 million and £563,000.

He was jailed for 12 years after pleading guilty to five offences of fraud. His son Lee, 34, was jailed for seven years for concealing criminal property. Meanwhile, Pickard, 66, was jailed for eight years for fraud and concealing criminal property, while another accomplice, Simon Kippax, 52, was jailed for seven years for fraud and making a false statement.

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