A MAN from Dymchurch and his half-sister have today been jailed after conning people, including family and friends, out of more than £2million to fund their gambling habits.
Matthew Sullivan, 53, from Dymchurch and his half-sister Caryn Bates, 41, of Cowden, Edenbridge pleaded guilty to the investment fraud at an earlier hearing at Maidstone Crown Court.
The court heard that Bates was a former bank manager and used her credentials to convince their victims to invest in a bogus scheme called “World Trading”.
Investigations by officers from the Serious Economic Crime Unit said the scheme began in March 2006 and carried on until October 2010.
Many of the victims used their life savings to get into the project, which Bates and Sullivan promised them would deliver a guaranteed return of between two and five per cent per month.
Nearly 40 victims were identified in the police investigation, many of them from Kent.
Some of the money was used to give the promised monthly returns to other investors to keep up the façade that the scheme was working but the majority of the cash was used to fund Sullivan’s gambling interests and to maintain his and Bates’ lifestyle.
Clients began to ask questions about the scheme in 2008 and in 2011 the scheme was brought to a stop after complaints were made to police.
Earlier today Sullivan was sentenced to seven years in prison, while Bates was order to serve a five-and-a-half year sentence.
Both were disqualified from being company directors for ten years and Sullivan will be the subject of a crime prevention order for five years after his release.
Detective Constable Mark Agnew said: “Sullivan and Bates conned their family and friends out of millions of pounds.
“Their clients trusted them to invest their money wisely and legally with the promise of solid returns on their capital. What they didn’t realise, until it was too late, was Sullivan and Bates used the cash to fund their lifestyle.
”They were happy to live off their family and friends’ life-savings without a care in the world.”