The former brother-in-law of Victoria Beckham has been jailed for his role in a criminal gang that scammed vulnerable victims out of almost £1m.
Darren Flood, 40, was a director of The Commodities Link (TCL) scam, which convinced people that they could make big returns by investing in rare metals.
Kingston Crown Court heard how some of those involved mentioned to their targets that Flood was married to the sister of former Spice Girls star Beckham in a bid to give the business legitimacy.
As a result of the illegal scheme, Surrey Police have identified at least 24 victims that have been scammed out of more than £800,000.
The force said many of the victims’ details are likely to have since been sold on to other criminal gangs, making them vulnerable to be targeted again.
One of the victims was an 83-year-old widow tricked into investing her entire life savings of more than £179,000.
In a victim impact statement, she said: Now that I have lost them, I have lost the opportunity to decide for myself how I am cared for in later life due to the loss of this money.
Other targets of the gang included a widower in his 80s from Taunton, who lost more than £50,000, and a retired lecturer from Aberdeen, who lost almost £20,000.
Another man, aged in his 50s and from Bedfordshire, was convinced to invest almost £13,000 of his inheritance, having been promised up to 12% profit.
The retired lecturer, now in his 80s, said: They haven’t just robbed my money, they’ve robbed me of so much time that I have spent on the phone, or writing letters, trying to get my money back.
The time wasted is colossal.
Police said TCL started out in 2012 selling for another firm, Denver Trading Ltd, but branched out on their own to sell directly to investors and make much larger sums.
The directors of Denver Trading Ltd were later jailed for fraud.
Police were initially alerted to the illegal operations by a hero bank manager in a NatWest branch in Woking, who was concerned that an elderly customer was trying to send £100,000 to a company connected to TCL.
The scammers used glossy brochures and a professional-looking website, which even included an apparent anti-money laundering policy, as part of their bid to fool investors.
Police said they seized on a short-lived price hike around rare earth metals that had been in the news.
The metals were often bought for as little as £20 per kilo, but then sold on to victims for as much as £5,000 per kilo.
Flood, of Ware Road in Hertford, who was previously married to the former Spice Girls star’s sister Louise Adams and is the father of her eight-year-old daughter, owned almost a quarter of TCL.
Also part of the business was his half-brother Jonathan Docker and their cousin Gennaro Fiorentino, 38, who was jailed for five years for playing the leading role.
Flood and Docker, 32, were both handed a 30-month jail sentence and disqualified from being a director of a company for five years and three years respectively.
Qualified accountant Mark Whitehead, 60, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, acted as finance director and was handed a three-and-a-half-year sentence.
Office manager Vikki King, 39, from Basildon, broke down in tears as she was jailed for 27 months.
All four of the defendants had denied a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, but were convicted by a jury in November last year.
Stephen Todd, 37, who was brought in to help run the company, and main salesman Paul Muldoon, 34, had pleaded guilty to the same charge, which is dated between April 2012 and August 2014.
Muldoon, of Basildon in Essex, who was jailed in 2010 for fraud offences, fled the UK after being questioned about the scheme and was extradited from Spain last year.
He was jailed for four years and Todd, of Blackwall Way in Tower Hamlets, who is currently in jail for a similarly-styled land banking fraud, was sentenced to one year behind bars, to run consecutively with his current term.
Muldoon, Fiorentino and King were all made the subject of Serious Crime Prevention Orders.
There is no suggestion the Beckhams or Ms Adams knew anything about the TCL fraud or about any use of the Beckham name.
(c) Sky News 2019: Victoria Beckham’s ex-brother-in-law Darren Flood jailed over £800,000 fraud