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Blackheath man jailed after conning friends in £760,000 wine scam
3:12pm Monday 1st October 2012 in News
A CON artist who scammed friends out of £760,000 through fake wine investments before writing his wife a letter of confession and fleeing the country has been jailed for three years.
The Old Bailey heard how 42-year-old Keith Milton, a former wine merchant from Mycenae Road, Blackheath, befriended affluent people, offering them highly investable wines from the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions of France.
Twenty victims handed over money and were told their wine would be stored and then sold on at a profit. However, the wine did not exist.
Milton ingratiated himself with his victims over eight years, becoming a close friend, going on holiday with them and even becoming best man to one at his wedding.
He deflected their suspicion about the investments by creating false portfolios showing the wine's increasing value and sales he claimed to have made.
But when his victims demanded the wine in 2009, Milton fled to France, leaving a confessional letter for his wife and step-children.
He was eventually arrested when he returned to the UK for a meeting.
Milton pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and deception on September 25. He was sentenced two days later.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Elliot Toms of the Met’s fraud squad said: "Here is a man whose greed saw him trick supposed friends out of thousands of pounds, and whose cowardice saw him flee this jurisdiction when confronted by them.
"Milton's method is a classic example of how investment fraud is undertaken. He had a company name, he used his knowledge of the product he peddled, and he seemed an amiable, trustworthy person. But this was all a ruse to part unsuspecting people from their money.
"His sentence is well deserved.
"Unfortunately he is not the only person running a scam like this, and I urge anyone thinking of investing to seek independent legal advice before committing themselves."
Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of an investment scam should call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
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