BE GREEDY, VERY GREEDY
When businessman Terry Collins was offered the chance to buy the Ritz Hotel for a knockdown price of £250million it was an opportunity that sounded too good to be true.
And it was indeed too good to be true. The hotel, with an estimated market value of around £600million, was not on the market.
Yet two conmen managed to persuade Mr Collins, co-founder of a large and reputable property company, that the hotel's owners, the Barclay brothers, were prepared to sell it at a bargain price.
Anthony Lee and Patrick Dolan convinced an intermediary that they represented the Barclays and even had a team of lawyers on board to give the plan respectability.
Lee turned out to be an unemployed lorry driver and bankrupt with no connections whatsoever to the brothers.
Dolan, too, was unemployed.
The elaborate fraud emerged yesterday in a judgment handed down at the High Court in London as the two victims of the fraud battled over the £ 1million which was immediately spent by Lee and Dolan.
Lee, 47, bought a £55,000 Land Rover as a Christmas present for his girlfriend Jennifer Hodgson, then took her on a luxury cruise.
He sent £59,000 to his creditors and paid rent arrears on his Yorkshire bungalow.
Dolan, 66, bought a Mercedes for £43,000 and splashed out on a lavish day at Cheltenham races, where he bet and lost heavily.
He paid off the £30,000 mortgage on his house in Barnet, North London, and paid £293,410 to his wife.
In yesterday's judgment, Mr Justice Henderson said: "The Barclay brothers were known by Mr Collins to have the reputation of being extremely secretive in the conduct of their business affairs, and it did not strike him as implausible that they would wish to structure a transaction of this sort through an intermediary such as Mr Lee."
To clinch the deal Lee convinced Mr Collins that another buyer was on the scene.
It was at that point that Mr Collins contacted Mr Boekhoorn, of a firm called Apvodedo, and outlined the opportunity. An agreement was reached.
The judge continued: "Readers of this judgment will perhaps have guessed by now that Mr Collins and London Allied Holdings (and indirectly Apvodedo and Mr Boekhoorn) were the victims of an elaborate fraud.
"Mr Lee and Mr Dolan were not currently involved in the property business, nor were they authorised in any way to act as intermediaries on behalf of the Barclay brothers.
Mr Collins said it was the legal element of the deal that had been so convincing.
"If the lawyers hadn't been there we would have laughed in their faces," he said.
"We are still very angry."
SUCK IT UP, PLEASE DO.
rEAD tHE wHOLE tHING
The mind Boggles at the stupidity.