WHEN Essex boys Shaun Rumsey and Daniel Gooding accepted offers of sales jobs in Spain, it may have sounded too good to be true.
Rumsey, 33, from Basildon, and Gooding, 39, from Brentwood, would sell shares in specialist diamond, mining and medical companies to more than 1,000 retired people across the UK.
The scheme was not unlike the one orchestrated by Jordan Belfont, played by Leonardo di Caprio, in Hollywood movie the Wolf of Wall Street.
Living in Madrid apartments with flights, expenses and rent covered by their new employers, they were among scores of “gift of the gab”
Essex salesmen recruited by Australian Jeffrey Revell-Reade, 49, and Londoner Anthony May, 58.
Despite the veneer of being a legitimate business, their roles were to sell what are now known to have been worthless shares in US-listed dormant and shell companies. Put simply, it became the UK’s biggest ever boiler room scam, netting nearly £70million.
Rolex watches and jewellery worth thousands of pounds were given as incentives to top sellers each month.
But while some colleagues of Rumsey and Gooding realised early on the scheme was a massive scam, and headed back home, the pair rose to become key players in an organisation that traded for four years.
They were finally brought to book and jailed following a seven-year international investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.
Deborah Weston, a Serious Fraud Office accountant who was a case principal investigator for six years, said: “A lot of salesmen went over from Essex where they advertised specifically for young men.
“They would pay for flights and rent out there. It was the reverse of a normal interview.
“If applicants knew anything about shares they would not get the job, in case they became suspicious.
“Hundreds went over from Essex.
Some came back after a few days because they didn’t like what they saw. But Sean Rumsey and Daniel Gooding became team leaders with team names.”
Rumsey, also known as Sean Logan, led a sales team called the Bulls. When he was arrested landing at Gatwick after a flight back from Spain, he was found to have two watches and a ring with a combined insurance value in 2008 of more than £123,000.
Gooding was using the pseudonymDaniel Tresadern and used this name to buy a home in the exclusive Oaklands Park development in Hutton, near Brentwood, for £1.27million.
The top salesmen earned hundreds of thousands of pounds and were able to invest in overseas and UK property.
Ms Weston added: “Rumsey got hundreds of thousands, plus it was all expenses paid, including entertainment.
Rolexwatches were prizes for top salesmen.”
At least ten victims who came forward as part of the Serious Fraud Office probe were from Essex.
One was left “isolated” after losing his money and now has only a small Army pension to live on.
Another victim invested her £200,000 life savings to try to fund care for her elderly disabled mother, and lost the lot.
Rumsey, from various addresses across Basildon, and Gooding from Oaklands Park, Hutton, were jailed for five and three years respectively last year for their part in the scam.
They were found guilty of one count each of conspiracy to defraud after becoming managers of different Spanish boiler rooms during the con, which ran from 2003 to 2007.
Their jail sentences could only be reported after Revell-Reade, from Dursley, Gloucestershire, and May, of South Norwood, South London, were last week convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud and jailed for nine years and six months and seven years six months respectively.
Ms Weston said salesmen like Rumsey and Gooding befriended potential investors and effectively groomed them to part with cash.
She said: “Part of the con was to promise whatever it took to get a sale.
“They befriended the vulnerable and the old. Very enticing leaflets were sent to people whowould return them for more information.
“The salesmen who rang would note down personal details, for example likewhen their grandchildren visited, and ask them about this on the next call to befriend them.
“They used very slick, sophisticated, underhanded and manipulative tactics.”
The biggest single investment was well over £1million. Others lost from £1,000 upwards.
Ms Weston said: “We knew straight away it was a fraud, but gathering the evidence took six years. We had to follow the trail of where the money went and it involved several countries.”
It was also a family affair.
Gooding’s sister Emma Farmer, 41, also from Hutton, received three years after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, while their mother Michelle Coleman, 62, of the same address, pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering and was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.
The total she laundered through a trail of bank accounts, ending at the Isle of Man, was £252,425.