A FRAUDSTER duped a group of entrepreneurs based in Yorkshire out of hundreds of thousands of pounds by preying on their desire to lead a lavish James Bond-inspired lifestyle.
Adam Adamou gained the trust of the three businessmen after being meeting them as the head of sourcing for a concierge club before promising to secure them expensive watches and luxury motor cars such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins.
The victims, brothers James and Martin O’Toole and their colleague David Breeze, ran an investment company called Aston Court which had offices in the heart of York.
The firm had an off-shore arm named Universal Exports – the pseudonym used for the British Secret Service, MI6, in the James Bond stories.
Adamou admitted a fraud which is thought to have topped £1.4m and stretched from North Yorkshire to the exclusive neighbourhood of St John’s Wood in London between 2007 and 2009.
The three Yorkshire victims paid out vast sums of money which Adamou then pocketed by initially providing luxury cars including Aston Martins and an Audi R8.
Among the payments was £12,100 for a first edition set of James Bond novels written by author Ian Fleming, which never materialised, while £40,000 was handed over for a Lamborghini. However, the model promised was only a concept car and had not even gone into production.
Adamou attempted to persuade the Yorkshire businessmen to invest in a Hawker Beechcraft aeroplane, although no money changed hands.
The victims also made list placement investments, where they would pay for places in a waiting list for prestige cars hoping to sell them on for a profit when they neared the top of the list.
Detective Sergeant Garry Ridler led the painstaking investigation after North Yorkshire Police received a complaint from the three victims in January 2010.
He said: “This has been a long and extremely complex inquiry after Adamou was able to conduct an extensive and well-planned fraud.
“He secured the trust of his victims before playing on their desire to lead an extremely glamorous and affluent lifestyle.
“He saw an opportunity and was able to exploit extremely wealthy individuals. But the success of this operation sends out a clear message that crime does not pay and it is foolish to assume that you can get away with such an audacious crime.”
The Metropolitan Police launched its own investigation into a similar fraud that Adamou conducted in the wealthy north-west London neighbourhood of St John’s Wood.
He was arrested for the offences in North Yorkshire in October 2010 and appeared before York magistrates in March this year before the case was transferred to London.
Adamou, 38, of Kenning Road, Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, appeared before Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to 25 charges of fraud. A further nine counts of fraud and one of money-laundering were ordered to remain on file. He was remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on October 3.
His victims in Yorkshire met Adamou when they were approached to join a private concierge club, which helps entrepreneurs to invest and make money by buying and selling luxury goods. Their firm was registered in Switzerland and had offices in King’s Staith in York, although the operation moved to London this year and is now based in the distinctive office block dubbed The Gherkin.
Martin O’Toole has left the business and set up his own enterprise in Leeds.