Four Years for [Pounds Sterling]5m Ostrich Farm Swindler

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HETHERINGTON

AN organiser of an ostrich farming scam exposed by Financial Mail has been jailed for four years after an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

Jack Bennett, 64, was a director of the Nottinghamshire-based Ostrich Farming Corporation, which cheated 3,000 investors out of [pounds sterling]21 million.

In brochures and a video presented by former ITN newsreader Fiona Armstrong, the company offered birds at prices ranging from [pounds sterling]1,400 for a chick to [pounds sterling]14,000 for a mature breeder.

Investors, whose ostriches were kept on a farm in Belgium, were promised returns of up to 20 times their money over 10 years.

But in articles in November and December 1995, Financial Mail warned that the people behind the company included Kevin Jones, who previously headed a pyramid scam called Alchemy, Paul Prew-Smith, whose Lancashire investment company lost more than [pounds sterling]12 million invested by pensioners, and Brian Ketchell, who was also involved in Alchemy and who had earlier headed two other businesses that went bust. …