26th Apr, 2018

Conman who swindled two lovers gambled away £670,000 of their money

Correspondent 17th Jul, 2017

A DESPICABLE conman has nothing left after gambling away more than £670,000 he obtained from two women who each believed they were the love of his life.

Craig Brown’s victims, who lived 50 miles from each-other in Coventry and Derby, each believed he was away working for their future while he was actually with the other.

By the time his cruel deceptions came to light, both had even sold their homes on the strength of his worthless promises.

Brown (47) of Kingswood Court, Nuneaton, was jailed for five-and-a-half years in March after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to four charges of fraud and two of assault.

At that time a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act was adjourned for an investigation into his finances.

And at the resumed hearing prosecutor Justin Jarmola said police financial investigators had established Brown had a benefit of £674,495 from his dishonesty – but that he has no assets.

So Judge Richard Bond made a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act for a nominal £1 – to be paid within three months, with one day in prison in default.

Explaining the need for an order in such a small amount, Mr Jarmola said: “The reason the order is made is that, should any funds or assets be discovered in the future, or Mr Brown come into any money, this order can be revisited.”

During the original hearing it was said Brown met his first victim, who lived in Derby and owned her own home, through an on-line dating website in June 2010.

Within four months Brown, who claimed to own a business called Jade Security, had moved into her home and proposed to her – but having gained her trust, he set about defrauding her.

As they began house-hunting, he persuaded her he needed £3,000 to set up a mortgage – and she also paid for ‘legal fees’ over their proposed purchase of various houses which fell through.

Brown encouraged her to give up her job, claiming he could support her, but the relationship then became volatile, and he assaulted her by stamping on her foot, breaking a bone in it, and later grabbed her by the hair, pulling out a chunk.

He claimed his company had a lucrative contract, but that they needed to put up £50,000 to secure it, of which he said his partner was providing £40,000 and he needed to find the rest.

Brown showed her a bank slip purporting to show his non-existent company had a balance of £800,000 which he claimed had been temporarily frozen by the Inland Revenue, so she took out a £5,000 loan to help out.

In March 2015 she sold her home, still believing they were looking for another place, and Brown cruelly persuaded her to put the £44,000 proceeds into his account on the basis that it earned higher interest than hers.

They ended up living in a caravan home on which she was again paying the mortgage, said Stuart Clarkson, prosecuting.

His deception finally came to light in September last year when she believed they were going on holiday to Florida with members of his family.

When the airport taxi turned up without him, his sister and the woman contacted the holiday company – only to find nothing had been booked.

“She was left with no savings and no home, estranged from her own family, and living with the fact that the previous six years of her life had been a lie,” said Mr Clarkson.

Brown had also been living a lie during those six years with a Coventry woman he had met through the same dating site.

Claiming he had a kitchen-fitting business, he persuaded her to part with £3,300 to help with a supposed problem with his tax, and then to invest £47,000 in a non-existent garage business.

After their return from a holiday in Turkey, he convinced her he had arranged to have a house built for them there – and to help fund the fictitious project she gave him her £55,000 savings and cashed an endowment policy for a further £11,000.

Brown later claimed funds had run out for the project, and persuaded her to sell her home and to hand over the £120,000 proceeds to finance its completion.

And as more and more money was needed, her father was also taken in by the lies and transferred large sums of money to her to then transfer to Brown – even taking out loans against his own home to help them.

Nick Devine, defending, said: “The money he obtained went exclusively to fund his run-away gambling habit. He hoped the big win would come in, but of course it didn’t.”

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