A businessman who promised to help cash-strapped pension holders to release their retirement funds early spent their savings on gambling, holidays and sports cars.
Anthony Locke, 32, created the website Successful Pensions to attract people wishing to cash in their pension funds.
Locke received a number of applications and a total of 16 applicants were conned out of £999,266.
His victims included people who were unable to work due to injuries and illnesses, a failing business owner, a woman made homeless following her divorce, and people hoping to use the money to renovate their home.
Working with 54-year-old Ray King, Locke allegedly offered applicants an upfront payment worth half their pension pot before promising to invest the rest in eco-friendly firms.
However, these firms were completely fictional and the money was filtered into offshore accounts and spent on gambling, luxury holidays and cars.
Locke bought an Aston Martin Vantage, Porsche 911 and Mercedes B180 with the money.
The duo were said to have created hundreds of documents in a bid to convince legitimate companies such as Friends Life and Virgin Money that they were operating a genuine pension scheme.
Applicants were even persuaded to tell their original pension companies that they were employees of Locke’s firm to avoid tax implications and give the impression the funds were not being cashed in.
Prosecutor Stephen Hopper said that King’s role centred on answering calls and ‘selling’ the scheme to those who had made enquiries online.
Working under a false name, Locke controlled all the scam businesses and was said to have been the ‘architect’ of the project.