West Hampstead land ‘fraudster’ recorded in undercover sting

The trial continues at Southwark Crown Court

The trial continues at Southwark Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A West Hampstead company director who was allegedly part of a £20m fraud persuading people to invest their savings in worthless land, was caught after being recorded by an undercover journalist, a court heard.

Investors were offered ‘eye-watering rates of return’ if they ploughed their cash into tiny pieces of land around Britain in the four-year scam, jurors were told.

A total of 1,000 victims were cold-called by the smooth-talking salesmen and posted glossy brochures promising the value of land they bought would soar as there were developers eager to build on it, Southwark Crown Court heard

But in reality the £20,000 plots were not even large enough to build a single house on and most investors never saw a penny of their money again.

The racket was exposed by Sky journalist Roddy Mansfield who posed as a potential client and recorded conversations he had with ‘class act’ salesman Stuart Cohen, of West End Lane, West Hampstead.

Cohen, 67, and fellow former Asset Land Investment directors David Banner-Eve, 55, of Harlow, Essex and Cohen’s former partner Susan Siggins, 54, of Isleworth, Middlesex are accused of conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown Court.

Prosecutor Paul Taylor said: ‘It is a case which is is about these three defendants who operated a con, a scam, which related to a very large number of members of the public being tricked into parting with a very large sums of money for very small plots of land....this is a land banking fraud,’ he said.

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The scam started in 2008 when people were desperate to find a better place to invest their money than the banks, jurors heard.

The case continues