A man who lost £43,000 to a scam run by two Blackpool businessman says he is as livid with them today as he was when he first found out they had taken his money.
Mathew Wall, 43, was duped by brothers Paul and Peter Aspden who were jailed on Monday for more than four years after being convicted of a £1.6m scam.
Twins Paul and Peter Aspden, 54, who are originally from the Fylde coast, but moved to the Cape Verde Islands, admitted charges under the Trade Descriptions Act at Leeds Crown Court.
The twins were co-directors of a company called Independent Property Consultants Limited (IPC) which sold overseas property developments to investors.
Mr Wall today told The Gazette he heard about the brothers through a family member who worked for them.
It was at a time when he was looking to invest in property abroad, and they were advertising a development in Bulgaria.
He said: “There were probably dozens of people who lost their life savings through this scheme. I have personally spoken to about 15 to 20 people.
“I lost up to £43,000, and I was one of the smaller investors. I know people who have lost £100,000 plus – their entire pensions. They’ve lost everything.
“I paid the brothers £38,000 and the rest I’ve paid in legal fees to try to recover it. It’s looking very unlikely that I’ll get it back while the Aspdens have been living like kings.”
Mr Wall, a laboratory worker from Somerset, said he gave them a small sum of money at first, but increased his investment over two years when the brothers said they needed more out of their investors.
“During the first year or two I was quite optimistic, as everyone was, and that the investment would go ahead,” he said. “But then it started to get a bit vague and projects were collapsing, but we were constantly reassured by the twins that everything was going ahead as scheduled.
“We were told the development was going ahead, and we were asked for more money along the way through the process.”
As they were asked for more and more money without seeing the fruits of their investment, the people involved in the scheme began to get suspicious.
A group which included Mr Wall met in Scarbrough and decided to do their own investigations.
One investor paid a visit to Bulgaria, and found that despite hundreds of thousands of pounds being invested into the scheme, there was nothing on the ground to show for it.
Mr Wall said at the same time the brothers were telling investors the property had been built, though more money was needed to complete the roof.
Mr Wall said: “We knew it was fraud at that point and contacted the police to give them our statements. That was up to four years ago now.”
Mr Wall was due to give evidence in court last month at the trial, but they pleaded guilty to fraud. But he said: “I know I’m not going to get my money back. There are people in their 70s who have lost their pensions; I don’t know how they will cope.
“I am still as livid as I was six years ago.
“I got involved with them because I wanted to invest in property, and the British market was very expensive in 2006 to 2007. I’d looked at Bulgaria at the time and it just coincided with me contacting the Aspdens. I wish I hadn’t bothered now.”
Andrew Haslam, prosecuting, told the court the Aspdens claimed to be offering properties in four Bulgarian developments and took more than £620,000 from clients.
The Insolvency Service investigation — launched after complaints from clients – discovered those homes never materialised.
Clients had also handed over £1m for apartments in the Sal Vista resort development in Cape Verde which they never got their hands on.
Paul Aspden was sentenced to 42 months in prison and Peter Aspden was sentenced to 10 months in prison.