Investment Scam Companies Closed

The Journal (Newcastle, England), March 2, 2004 | Go to article overview

Investment Scam Companies Closed


Byline: By Robert Brooks

A North-East company which received more than pounds 100m by selling derelict, boarded-up houses in an elaborate investment scam has been wound up after a Government investigation.

Gateshead-based Practical Property Portfolio and its associated companies used adverts, brochures and a slick sales pitch to persuade investors to part with sums upwards of pounds 18,000, promising juicy returns of 15pc per annum.

But many of those paying up were being sold properties that had been left to fall into a disgraceful state of disrepair.

Investors complained to the Department of Trade and Industry's Companies Investigations Branch after discovering that they had bought boarded up properties in derelict streets across the North-East, which were worth far less than they had paid.

At the time of the winding up petitions, the companies had sold around 4,000 properties to over 1,000 investors. About half were neither tenanted nor refurbished and many were uninhabitable.

Yesterday, the Department of Trade and Industry issued petitions to end their dealings following a year-long battle.

In total 11 companies linked to the scam were targeted, including Napeer Housing Ltd, Bluebell Housing Ltd, Bluebell (Maintenance) Ltd, Let Protect Ltd, Aaron de Vere Ltd, Gold Medal Construction Ltd and Janspeed Consultancy Ltd.

Last night there was no sign of Sunderland-based director John Potts, who is listed as a director of all 11 firms, most of which are based on the Team Valley Trading Estate in Gateshead.

Detectives had earlier raided Mr Potts' home, Villa Maria at Silksworth Hall Drive, seizing pounds 84,000 in cash and a Mk II Jaguar used in TV's Inspector Morse series, which cost him pounds 53,000 at auction. …

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