Adviser who ran short term loan scam ordered to repay victims £2.5m

A fraudulent financial adviser who swindled nearly 50 people out of £12 million has been ordered to repay his victims – although he will only have to hand over £2.6 million.

Grahame Whitehead, 48, of Wickford, Essex, carried out his scam over five years, between 2004 and 2009 – persuading his clients to invest in two fake investment schemes.

They were led to believe they were investing in high-yielding Credit Suisse accounts and bonds, or in short-term bridging loans for the Salvation Army to buy property in the UK.

In largest fraud case ever investigated by Essex police, Whitehead was found to have paid the money into his and a family member’s bank account and used it for his own purposes – buying property in South Africa and the UK.

Judge Walden-Smith said: “This was an extremely serious fraud undertaken over a considerable period of time, with large numbers of victims who lost large amounts of money and, in some cases, put those victims in an extremely difficult financial position.”

"This was an extremely serious fraud undertaken over a considerable period of time"

Whitehead, who previously pleaded guilty to 49 fraud charges and was jailed for ten years in April, was brought back to Court to be stripped of his assets.

Although he made huge gains, only £2.6 million is available in assets – which are now being sold. The assets include cash, a number of properties, a BMW X5, insurance policies, golfing clothes and home furnishings. There is also a small amount of shares, rental income and money held in trusts funds and by solicitors.

Speaking to the Essex Enquirer newspaper, Det Chief Supt Gareth Wilson, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This case demonstrates the wide ranging tactics available to the newly formed directorate. The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) legislation used will go some way to compensate the victims of Whitehead's crimes.

“Upon release from prison, Grahame Whitehead will effectively owe the total of his criminal benefit and will be vigorously pursued if further assets are identified or if he attempts criminal activity in the future. The power of the POCA effectively means that this is a financial life sentence for Whitehead.”

Judge Karen Walden-Smith made an order that the total assets be divided between the victims. Extra money could be made available by the sale of the properties, which are currently in negative equity.

The financial fraudster was in charge of Woodbridge Financial Services – offering advice and mortgage services between 2002 and 2008.

He must now repay the £2.6 million in six months, and if he fails to do so will serve an extra year in prison.

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