Scammers who tricked investors into buying small plots of land at over-inflated prices have lost a Supreme Court appeal against their conviction.
The directors and companies involved in the land banking scam must now pay victims of their con around £21 million.
But the victims have probably lost out again because the scammers do not have the cash, according to investment industry regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The FCA won the first case against the scammers in February 2013.
After a lengthy investigation, the FCA took David Banner-Eve, Start Cohen, Asset Land Investments and Asset LI to the High Court and asked for orders to stop them trading as they were running a collective investment scheme without permission.
The court agreed and issued the orders.
Appeal rejected by Supreme Court
The scammers took the case to the Court of Appeal, where their claim against the orders was rejected.
The High Court order for them to pay investors the £21 million compensation was shelved pending a further appeal to the Supreme Court.
Now, the Supreme Court has upheld the Court of Appeal ruling, the compensation order is reactivated.
Asset Land was the company fronting the investment con.
The company bought land and promised investors that the value would rise because councils and developers wanted the plots for building.
This was misleading and the courts heard that the land was unlikely to ever be required for development.
Investors paid between £7,500 and £24,000 for the plots spread across six sites in England. The company suggested could yield up to 335% on some land.
A group aimed at claiming compensation for the victims of the land banking scam has a web site with information about Asset Land and the scam.
The FCA has online information warning about land banking scams and reckons that crooks have swindled victims out of more than £200 million by selling land at inflated prices.
“We regulate collective investment schemes and a firm must be authorised to run one in the UK. If it is not, we can take action to close the scheme,” said an FCA spokesman.
“If we cannot deal with the complaint, we can refer the matter to the police, the government’s insolvency service or trading standards.”