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Bexleyheath businesswoman Rebecca McDonald jailed for £5m family wine scam
A BUSINESSWOMAN from Bexleyheath has been jailed for three years for her role in a £5m family wine scam.
Rebecca McDonald, 43, of Parkside Avenue, oversaw the day-to-day running of the fraudulent organisations’ bank accounts set up by two of her cousins.
Daniel Snelling, 38, and his sister Dina Snelling, 35, of Invicta Close, Chislehurst, launched Nouveau World Wines Ltd in June 2007 and Finbow Wines Ltd two and a half years later.
Southwark Crown Court heard how they scammed more than 100 victims by using a sales team to cold-call members of the public and promote two promising wine investment schemes.
Nouveau World Wines Ltd investors were told their money would be spent on Australian wines which would be stored in Australia before being sold on for profit.
Meanwhile investors in Finbow Wines Ltd investors were duped into buying Italian wine which they said would be shipped to China, South Africa and India.
After the victims' appetites were whetted, they were sent high-quality brochures and investment packs before being called back to close deals.
The victims were also sent false receipts and certificates of ownership, claiming the wine had been purchased when in reality only £478,000 was spent on wine.
When victims pressed the Snellings for evidence of their investments, this wine was moved between their accounts to fool them.
They were in the process of moving to a third company, M2M, when police arrested them in March 2010.
Yesterday Rebecca McDonald was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to three years behind bars for conspiracy to defraud. One count of conspiracy to defraud was left on file.
Daniel Snelling, of Basinghall Gardens, Sutton was jailed for 17 years after being found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud and two charges of converting criminal property.
Dina Snelling's sentencing for two counts of conspiracy to defraud has been adjourned to October 11.
One of the wine scammers' receipts
Simon Dempsey, 43, of Blackfen Road, Sidcup was found not guilty of converting criminal property and conspiracy to defraud.
Detective Inspector Paul Whatmore of the MPS Fraud Squad, said: "Daniel Snelling and his sister went to great lengths to con investors out of their money.
"They set up fake offices for investors to visit in Canary Wharf and Mayfair, and paid for incredibly professional brochures to be designed and printed.
"By all accounts, the brochures and the certificate of ownership looked like the real deal.
“Sadly for the victims, this was nothing more than a callous, family-run plot to dupe them out of thousands of pounds which was spent on nights out, designer clothes, luxury cars and cosmetic surgery.
“Had we not arrested them, the Snellings would have likely gone on to create additional companies and take many more victims' money.
"Anyone who is considering investing money should thoroughly research the companies and individuals they are dealing with - including checking their credentials with Companies House - to ensure that they are reputable and legitimate."
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