A gang of investment fraudsters stole more than £1 million from victims while using aliases from television hits Suits, The Riot Club and Hart to Hart

Sujanthan Sotheeswaran, Darren Peck and Denis Deegan acted as brokers for a company who would cold-call members of the public and pressure them into investing in a managed account scheme. 

They used names such as Jonathan Hart, from 1970s crime show Hart to Hart, Miles Richards and Harry Villiers from 2014 film The Riot Club, or Harvey Specter from law drama Suits

But investors were later left unable to access their online accounts, contact the company or withdraw their funds. 

City of London Police were alerted to the scheme in February 2016 as investors told officers they had been promised a fixed monthly return, or dividend, as well as an overall profit after 12 months. 

However, the reality was that the trading platform used by Choice Option was not connected to a banking system, meaning that investors’ funds were simply at the disposal of the defendants. 

At trial it was widely accepted that the investment proposition was a Ponzi scheme, City of London Police said. 

Sotheeswaran, Peck and Deegan all acted on behalf of Choice Option and, later, Blue Crest Capital Options. 

Financial records indicated that they were all among the top 20 per cent of staff earners. 

On Friday (January 19, 2024) they were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court after being found guilty of fraud by false representation. 

Sotheeswaran, 35, of The Forum in Molesey, was jailed for three years.

Darren Peck, 43, of Leighton Road in Kentish Town, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment, suspended for two years. 

Ham & High: SotheeswaranSotheeswaran (Image: City of London Police)He must also complete 25 days' rehabilitation activity and 100 hours' unpaid work. 

Denis Deegan, 49, of David Wildman Lane in Mill Hill, was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison. 

Financial Investigator Hayley Wade, from the Civil Recovery Team at the City of London Police, said: “Sotheeswaran, Peck and Deegan used elaborate and detailed marketing materials, often copied from respected trading firms, to deceive countless victims. 

“Their custodial sentences should serve as a reminder that no matter how convincing your pitch may be and however clever you think you are, if its fraudulent then we will find out.” 

Ms Wade warned would-be investors: “No investment is ever foolproof and if an investment opportunity seems too good to be true, with the returns being guaranteed, we would encourage everyone to do their research.  

“Take a moment to think before you hand over money, especially if you are being pressured by brokers.”