Two men have been sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court for running an investment scam which lost victims a combined £6.2 million.
Craig Brooks and Marvin Brooks from Sutton Coldfield each received a one year sentence after an in-depth investigation by The City of London Police.
Running three companies Bric Global Ltd, Citygate Capital Ltd and Rare Earth Commodities Ltd between June 2011 and July 2013 the pair used a script called ‘The Bible’ to manipulate victims to invest in carbon credits and rare earth metals.
An investigation by the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad found 350 victims had been scammed loosing up to a combined £6.2 million.
The investigation first began in November 2012 following 10+ reports to Action Fraud about Bric Global Ltd. The victims had been cold called by Bric Global about short to middle term Voluntary Carbon Credit investments (VERs) which the brokers claimed could double, or in some cases triple, within 6 to 18 months. However, when the victims asked for their VERs to be sold, company employees created obstructions and delayed any sale or return of funds. The victims were either told they had to wait for the right time to make a bulk sale or were pressured into buying more credits to make their portfolios more attractive to investors.
Bric Global was incorporated in June 2011 with Craig Brooks listed as the sole director. The initial address was in Devonshire Square, London, EC2 and was subsequently linked to 5 other addresses.
On 9 November 2012, a search warrant was carried out by the Fraud Squad at an address used by Bric Global in Houndsditch, London, EC3. No Bric Global staff were present during the search as the building manager had required them to leave due to inappropriate behaviour and unpaid rent. Officers seized computers and documents showing that brokers used false names and a script called ‘The Bible’ to rebut victim reluctance and manipulate them into investing.
During this search, officers also found documents and correspondence relating to Rare Earth Commodities. The evidence showed that some victims had also been encouraged by Bric Global staff to further invest in an apparently new profitable commodity, ‘rare metals’ from mid-2012. Many victims also invested significant funds in this commodity through Rare Earth Commodities believing that again they would make profits in a short period of time.
On 26 November 2012, Craig Brooks visited a bank in order to close the Bric Global account and withdraw the money from it. He was stopped by Fraud Squad’s officers as he left the bank and the bankers draft was seized.
On 13 January 2013, the City of London Police received a report of a burglary at an office building on Old Broad Street in the City, close to company premises linked to Bric Global.
When an officer called at this address to take make enquiries, he asked to speak with the manager, Marvin Brooks and was told that no-one of that name worked there.
On a follow-up phone call by the officer, the staff member believed the line was closed and could be heard saying “He’s putting me on edge, he wants to speak to Dan, Marvin Brooks, someone’s given your name” and “If it’s tape-recorded say you’re in charge in case it looks dodgy”. Dan is believed to be Dan Perryment, the false name given as the company manager, who is, in fact, Marvin Brooks.
Citygate Capital was set up in May 2012 and operated from offices in Cheapside and Lime Street in London, offering investments in rare earth metals and oxides. The company also had virtual offices in New Bond Street also in London.
The City of London Police looked into Citygate Capital after a visit to its Cheapside offices by officers alongside National Trading Standards. Despite its high telephone bill, the company received no post which raised concerns that they were using a second address. Checks with Action Fraud revealed that two reports had been received.
On 16 July 2013, City of London Police officers carried out simultaneous search warrants on the Cheapside and Lime Street offices. Diaries and uncashed cheques were seized.
As a result of the search, Marvin Brooks contacted the police and he was subsequently arrested and interviewed on 18 July 2013. He made no comment and was bailed until December 2013. On 15 December 2014, he attended Bishopsgate Police Station to be interviewed for the third time; he was first interviewed voluntarily on 20 June 2013 under caution.
Craig Brooks was interviewed under caution on 10 April 2013 and again on 4 December 2014. The men both claimed to have started Bric Global in July 2011 after another company, Cavendish Land Properties, ceased due to a police investigation.
Both men pleaded guilty to engaging in a misleading commercial practice on 2 May 2019 at Birmingham Crown Court. Two offences of conspiracy to defraud will remain on their files. A total of £500,000 has been recovered by police, and a further £300,000 in assets has been identified and ordered to be paid over immediately. All of this money will be used to repay the victims of their crimes.
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, offenders subject to confiscation orders could be liable for life for the remainder of the victims’ losses, or until the full amount, plus interest, is repaid.
Detective Sergeant Marek Coghill of the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad said:
“This was an extensive investigation reflected in the sheer number of victims who fell prey to the Brooks’ manipulation.
“The financial loss to over 350 victims in this case is substantial, but the toll that this type of cynical and indiscriminate crime can take is far greater. These offences are not victimless crimes. They target elderly and infirm members of the public, many of whom are often vulnerable.”