Horse Racing System
The £2m Online Gambling Spree
That Led To A Nine-Year Prison Sentence
Financial adviser ripped off
brother and 50 clients
· Cash went on bets on golf, horses and other sport
An unregistered financial adviser who fleeced more than
£2m from his clients to fund his internet gambling
addiction was jailed for nine years recently. Philip
Smith conned at least 51 victims out of the money, many
of whom were elderly and vulnerable. He even stole
£42,000 from his brother Christopher who had previously
lent him money to pay off mortgage arrears. As his debts
spiralled out of control, Smith simply did not care who
he stole from, detectives claimed.
In total, Smith took £1.75m from clients and laundered a
further £600,000 to fund his online gambling habit -
with accounts at firms Betfair, Stanley James, Blue
Square and Spread Ex.
Judge Peter Larkin, sitting at Manchester's Minshull
Street crown court, said it was dishonesty on a "truly
breathtaking scale". The judge told the 48-year-old
Smith: "I intend to be blunt. You are a callous,
manipulative and thoroughly dishonest man. As a
financial adviser, your clients trusted you to handle
their financial affairs with integrity and honesty. You
breached that trust placed in you in a cold and
He said many ordinary, decent hard-working people had
lost substantial amounts of money as a result of Smith's
At one point, Smith had 67 credit cards registered with
a single online betting company and it is thought that
he squandered £2m by gambling on horses, golf and other
He betrayed clients he had been friends with for 20
years, whom he had shared meals with and popped round to
their homes for cups of tea. Some of them had stayed at
his £170,000 villa in the Costa del Sol, or his holiday
chalet in Porthmadog, north Wales.
The largest single theft from his clients was £185,000
from a woman in her 60s.
Smith also convinced his clients to hand over their
credit card details, which he then used to set up online
betting accounts. He raised credit limits without their
knowledge and diverted many of their statements to keep
them in the dark.
When the executor of an 84-year-old man's estate began
asking questions about a missing £31,000, Smith produced
forged paperwork and receipts suggesting that the dead
man had spent the money on foreign trips and double
Smith stashed much of the cash in offshore bank accounts
and enjoyed an opulent lifestyle on the proceeds of his
crime, living in a luxurious £550,000 home in the
wealthy Cheshire commuter district of Bowdon and driving
a BMW 7 series car.
Smith bowed his head as he was led away from the dock
past many of his victims sitting in the public gallery.
At an earlier hearing, the fraudster had pleaded guilty
to 49 counts of theft, money laundering, false
accounting and forgery.
Smith had worked as a financial adviser in a branch of
Lloyd's TSB bank in Stockport, Greater Manchester,
during the 1980s. He set himself up as a registered
independent financial adviser in 1990, building up a
network of 270 clients and investing £6m on their
Police believe his obsession with gambling, coupled with
the mounting failure of his investments saw him succumb
to the temptation of handling so much money.
His crimes went undetected for a decade because he
allowed his registration as an independent financial
adviser to lapse in 1997, leaving him unregulated. His
clients were unaware of this and he had kept no accounts
since his registration expired, the court heard.
On one occasion, he impersonated a dead person on the
telephone to arrange for financial products to be
surrendered. In doing this, he plundered money from an
elderly woman who had recently lost her husband.
But by February 2005, a building society fraud
investigator became suspicious about a joint account he
had set up with an 87-year-old retired schoolteacher.
The investigator wrote several letters to the woman, but
she did not receive them as Smith had diverted the post
to his home. Social services were informed and it was
discovered that he had plundered £111,000 from her.
Detectives went to speak to her and while they were
there, Smith arrived and was arrested. During the
complex police inquiry, he was questioned 30 times.
One of his victims, Dilys Booth, sought his services
because he had dealt with her aunt's financial affairs.
On her aunt's death, she asked him to invest her
inheritance , but was conned out of £40,100.
Ms Booth, a 65-year-old from Harrogate, North Yorkshire,
said: "I am not stupid, but he was such a good liar.
Whenever I visited his house, he had the financial pages
up on Teletext and I often heard him on the phone buying
and selling shares."
Smith also stole £7,000 from her daughter Jeanette, who
was ill and living on incapacity benefits. Another of
his victims was a 36-year-old man with severe learning
Only £500,000 went back on his victims' cards; Smith
kept another £500,000 and £1m has been lost forever.
The prosecutor, David Friesner, said there were no
hidden assets in this case. "It appears all the money
essentially seems to have been gambled away," he said.
"Some of it was returned to victims, but a lot of it was
Speaking outside the court, Detective Constable John
Ashington, of Greater Manchester police, said Smith was
a man driven by greed, selfishness and ultimately
desperation. "He has left not only financial chaos and
devastation in his wake, but also dozens of decent and
hardworking people feeling shocked, shattered, betrayed
and angry," he said. "Some have started to suffer health
problems after finding out what he has done."
Mr Ashington said the downward spiral of financial chaos
in which Smith became trapped was so severed that in the
end it appears "he simply didn't care who he stole money
from ... He took £50,000 from a woman who was orphaned
as a child and had been left the money by an auntie who
had brought her up. He stole thousands of pounds from a
member of his own family - and this after they had been
good enough to lend him thousands of pounds to clear
Article source: Helen Carter http://www.guardian.co.uk
Paul Whelan is
an experienced internet marketer of over 7 years, but
also an avid
horse racing fan. He is the co-founder of
SkyBlueKangaroo.com which serves as a showcase for
many of the top-rated horse racing web sites on the
Horse Racing System