By Amie Keeley
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
A FORMER City broker who conned his friends and family out of £3.3million has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Ian Dickinson, 50, of Nacton Road, Ipswich, used investors’ cash to buy cars, a large house and fund private education for his two children when he lived in Frinton.
Over a five-year period 113 people invested money into Dickinson’s Ponzi scheme, with 86 losing all or some of their cash.
The investments ranged from four-figure sums to £881,000, and were made up of people’s life savings, mortgages and pension schemes.
A court heard that Dickinson was a high-profile member of the seaside town’s community who showed all the signs of being a successful businessman, having previously worked as a broker in the City.
In 2005 he set up his own foreign exchange investment scheme, promising huge returns.
But Dickinson only invested a fraction of what he received and used new payments to pay off earlier investors.
In total he received £11m but less than £8m was returned.
A judge at Chelmsford Crown Court described the case as a “shameful scam” made worse because so many of the victims were childhood friends and close acquaintances of Dickinson.
Many of them included fellow members of the seaside town’s golf, cricket and Rotary clubs.
In November 2010, Dickinson was found by police at his home having tried to kill himself from an overdose. He was later declared bankrupt and charged.
Dickinson was sentenced yesterday at Chelmsford Crown Court, having previously pleaded guilty to carrying on a business for a fraudulent purpose and being involved in unregulated financial activity when not permitted.
The court also heard that he had been receiving state benefits and was now separated from his wife.
Passing sentence, Judge David Turner QC said: “The figures speak for themselves and the legacy of distress and loss are made all the worse because many of those people were friends and acquaintances, social contacts and others who you knew through substantial network you built up in Frinton.”
He said Dickinson was perceived as trustworthy but had a taste for the good life which led him into temptation.
“This was a shameful scam playing on the trust and admiration which your social circle had for you,” he said. “Investors were close friends and, in some cases, members of your own family.
“You robbed Peter to pay Paul. You parried when people wanted their money back. You got more money in to create an illusion of profitability.”
He said the financial benefits to Dickinson were hard to quantify but must have been significant.
He said: “The money was used to support a lifestyle of substantial property, cars and education for your children.”
Other victims included a man who invested £765,000, almost half of which was from a pension fund, and only received £234,000 back.
Judge Turner added: “This has been described as a Ponzi scheme under the guise of a foreign exchange trading scheme but labels don’t matter – what you did matters and you took money from investors in very substantial quantities, investing only a fraction of what you took.
“It’s plain that, whatever your motivation, you left an appalling legacy of anxiety, stress, sleepless nights, depression, extreme financial hardship and a profound sense of anger.”