Twin brothers who carried out a £1.6m property scam after promising people foreign properties have been jailed for over four years between them.
Paul and Peter Aspden, 54, who are originally from the Fylde coast, Lancs, but moved to the Cape Verde Islands, admitted a 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. The business had one of its offices in Scarborough and took money from a number of local investors.
The court heard that Paul Aspden held the majority share of the company at 75 per cent with Peter holding the balance. Andrew Haslam, prosecuting, explained that the pair sold overseas developments
to investors in Bulgaria and later Cape Verde.
He said: “Some people were looking to invest money and rent out the property while others wanted to fulfil their dream of owning a home abroad.
“Some invested their life savings and others remortgaged their family home.”
The Aspdens claimed to be offering properties in four Bulgarian developments and took over £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.
The court heard that when investors approached Paul Aspden to ask why their properties had not been completed they were met with excuses regarding the standard of the building work not being satisfactory.
In the Cape Verde development, investors were led to believe that IPC owned the land where the development was to be built and that their money would be used to fund the development.
Mr Haslam said: “Both defendants mislead customers as to the true position of the ownership of the land. The reality of the situation was that their money went to buy the land on which their property was to be built.”
The fraud involved 72 victims who parted with approximately £1.6m.
Sentencing Paul Aspden Recorder Robin Mairs said: “Your recklessness was at the extreme end of the scale.
“You showed calculated and persistent dishonesty over an extended period.”
Paul Aspden pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading in Bulgaria and offered an alternative plea of Making a false and Misleading Statement as to Services, Contrary to section 14 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 in respect of investments in Cape Verde, this was accepted.
Peter Aspden offered a plea of Making a false and Misleading Statement as to Services, Contrary to section 14 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 in respect of Cape Verde only. This was accepted. The fraudulent trading offence in respect of Bulgaria was ordered to lie on the file.
Paul Aspden was sentenced to 42 months in prison and Peter Aspden was sentenced to 10 months in prison.