David Beckham’s former brother-in-law has been jailed for 30 months after he used links to the football superstar to fleece investors out of nearly £1 million.
Darren Flood, 39, who was married to Victoria Beckham’s sister Louise Adams, was involved in a boiler room scam which tricked pensioners into making ‘worthless’ investments.
Flood was a director of The Commodities Link which focused on ‘high net worth clients’ and discussed potential targets including former Chelsea footballer Joe Cole’s father.
Staff ‘made great play on Darren Flood being David Beckham’s brother-in-law’ to win the trust of investors, Kingston Crown Court heard.
Victims were encouraged to buy ‘rare earth’ substances, used to make tech products, with the promise of enormous profits.
Flood was tasked with targeting potential high net worth investors, who paid up to 200 times over the odds for the materials.
He also set up two Coutts bank accounts for the company using contacts from previous businesses.
The victims invested more than £800,000 between April 2012 and August 2014 – but the materials had no resale value.
Deputy Circuit Judge Michael Carroll jailed Flood and five` others for a total of 14 years and 27 months after a two-day sentencing hearing.
His lawyer Joanna Hardy said: ‘Mr Flood had the accident of love to blame for his link to the Beckham family.
‘He happened to fall in love with a lady who happened to be the sister of someone who happened to be a famous popstar.’
He was a director for TCL while Gennaro Fiorentino, 38, was the boss and Jonathan Docker, 32, was a sales floor manager.
Mother-of-four Vikki King, 39, was a secretary and administrator who brought home as salary of £54,000.
She sat sobbing in the dock today with a tissue pressed to her eyes rocking back and forth slowly as the gang were sentenced.
Michael Shay, prosecuting, said company salesman Paul Muldoon, 34, used the false name Paul Roberts to con tens of thousands of pounds from victims.
He had been living in Spain in 2018 until he was extradited following being arrested on suspicion of beating up his late-wife mother of two Rebecca Muldoon.
During their investigation police found 425 cannabis stuffed e-cigarettes in his offices in Marbella.
A few days later his 35-year old wife killed herself in Spain on New Years’ Day and her body was found washed-up on a beach near their villa 12-days later.
Mr Shay said: ‘Paul Roberts stressed his experience and that of other brokers, even though the company, TCL, had only just been set up.
‘He, Paul Roberts, made great play of Darren Flood being David Beckham’s brother-in-law, which was the position, I think, at one point in the past.’
‘In mid-2012 Peter Martin, a widower, was cold called by Paul Roberts, who claimed that customers were enjoying significant returns investing in rare earth metals.
‘Mr Martin was interested and on 22 August 2012 paid £10,201.84 as instructed into an Imperial Escrow account.
‘He was then persuaded to part with large sums, not always with TCL. Mr Martin received regular calls from Paul Roberts or Vikki Edwards. (AKA King)
‘Roberts would update him on his investments and Vikki Edwards would chase him for payment or push sales.
‘Mr Martin’s total losses attributable to his dealings with TCL are £50,238.54.’
Another victim Marian Free was scammed out of £179,000 after she was wined and dined and driven to and from Canary Wharf under the instructions of Muldoon and King.
While another man lost his entire inheritance left to him by his mother and has found himself swamped with debts and court costs.
Int total the gang targeted 24 people.
Referring to the bogus investments, Mr Shay added: ‘Manufacturers buy directly from suppliers by the ton. They would never seek to purchase a few kilograms from a private individual.’
Victims of the company paid ‘between seven and 200 times’ over the odds, Mr Shay said.
Flood was a director of the company between June 2012 and April 2013 – but documents uncovered by detectives revealed tensions with colleagues.
One titled ‘TCL requirements’, which was read to the jury, said: ‘Jonny and Darren need to talk with high net worth clients, people, potential customers that you know.
‘Since June we have been talking about Joe Cole’s dad.’
A document written for Docker stated the company’s ‘output is terrible’ and said: ‘The politics between you and Darren must be sorted.
‘The business is on its knees over where leads get sent. That is f***ing ridiculous.’
Mr Shay said: ‘That document would appear to suggest Darren Flood and Jonny Docker were not getting on particularly well while TCL was in operation.’
The document went on: ‘Darren has not performed on any level other than to charge money to the business and extract expenses.
‘He got a bank account but this could have been done with any high street bank.
‘Darren threatens to leave and close the bank accounts. This is a common threat and makes progressing the business very difficult.’
The Commodities Link was wound up by the High Court on 29 August 2014.
Flood, Fiorentino, along with King and Mark Whitehead, 59, and, were convicted by a jury of fraud by false representation.
Flood was jailed for 30 months while Whitehead went down for three and a half years. Fiorentino was jailed for five years.
Muldoon, who went into the cells immediately after he heard his fate, got four years.
Judge Carroll said Fiorentino had played the leading role in the conspiracy.
‘There was a degree of sophistication- the fraudulent activity was conducted of a sustained period of time,’ the judge said.
Judge Carroll told Muldoon: ‘You pleaded guilty to this conspiracy at a time which allows me to give you a third credit. However, you were an unscrupulous salesman preying on people who wanted to make investments for their future.
‘As such, you played a leading role in this conspiracy for a considerable time. It was a determinant role.
‘You played it with consummate ease, you used alias and a number of your victims took you into their confidence, almost took you into their hearts while all the time you were effectively stealing their money.
‘You diverted some of the money even away from TCL to your own bank accounts for your own personal use. Even then that is while you were being paid commission from TCL.’
Judge Carroll jailing King said: ‘It is often those who are left behind who suffer the most. Therefore, it is with heavy heart but with certainty that I order you to go to prison for 27 months.’
Stephen Todd, 37, admitted fraud by false representation and got one year to be served consecutively with a seven-year sentence he received at Croydon Crown Court for an earlier fraud.
Flood was banned from establishing a company for four years in civil proceedings in April 2017.
Fiorentino, Muldoon and King, also were made the subject of a serious crime prevention order.