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Earlier today, former The Only Way Is Essex star Lewis Bloor attended court as he is put on trial for conspiracy to defraud following a shocking £3million diamond scam.
The reality TV star, 31, appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Monday, September 20, 2021, as he must stand trial following a not-guilty plea for conspiracy to defraud between May 7, 2013 and July 1, 2014.
Lewis is on trial alongside five other men for an alleged fraud which saw over 200 victims conned into spending their life savings and pensions on coloured diamonds.
Joseph Jordan, 29, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, George Walters, 29, from Beckenham, Kent, Max Potter, 25, of Enfield, Middlesex, Nathan Wilson, 28, of Brentwood, Essex, and Simon Akbari, 27, from Loughton, Essex, all stand trial alongside Lewis.
The court heard how more than 200 victims, many of whom were elderly, were allegedly conned into buying small, coloured stones as an investment after being "told lies’" during cold calls.
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Two companies operating under the names 'Imperial Assets Solutions' and 'Henderson & Forbes' are associated with the alleged fraud, and according to prosecutor David Durose QC, all six defendants were involved in both, apart from Lewis.
Durose told the court: "Each one of these six defendants was involved in both, with one exception, Lewis Bloor, who left at some point in 2013 to pursue a career in television."
He continued: "In total, over 200 people were conned into buying coloured diamonds and the companies defrauded those people out of a total of well over £3m".
Lewis has denied the charges made against him, but must now stand trial for the alleged crime.
According to Mr Durose, over 200 victims had lost significant chunks of their life savings or pension posts, and the court heard how police took statements from dozens who claim they'd been encouraged to part with huge amounts of money as an investment.
"All of those involved tell a similar story. Every single one of them has lost their money", added the prosecutor.
The two firms involved allegedly presented themselves as specialist brokers for people wanting to buy or sell investment grade stones, with brochures boasting of an ‘outstanding track record of meeting the needs of our clients’.
The jury heard how potential investors were cold called by salesmen using false names and sold the diamonds as an investment which would increase in value.
Mr Durose added: "Those representations that were made to those customers were false, they were lies.
"Because of the price they were sold at and the circumstances in which they were sold, they could never have been a genuine investment opportunity."
Today, jurors were told by Mr Durose how the stones were bought from a wholesaler and resold to the alleged victims with a markup of around 600 per cent.
This meant £5,000 investments being made for diamonds which were originally purchased for only around £750.
Most of the diamonds' buyers never actually saw their purchases, as they were stored in a bonded warehouse in Geneva.
However, their resale prices would've been even lower than £750 and they were "all but valueless" to the investors, who would have had to pay 20 per cent VAT before they could be sold.
"Invariably, that would be more than the diamond was actually worth" added the prosecutor.
Lewis Bloor is best known for appearing on TOWIE, after spending three years on the ITV reality show.
He joined season 10 back in 2013, leaving after the 17th series in 2016, before going on to appear on Celebrity Big Brother later that year.
The trial continues on Tuesday, September 21.
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