Conman faces jail over £23m sting

A CONMAN faces jail after he set up a financial services company as a smokescreen to hide elaborate investment scams totalling about £23m.

Eric Fitzpatrick Danison ripped off victims across the globe, including a man in Yorkshire whom he tricked into handing over 60,000.

Danison, 51, concealed his crimes by running a financial services company called Amkel Capital, which he operated from a rented office in London's financial district Canary Wharf.

Posing as a highly successful businessman, he targeted victims

worldwide, convincing them he could provide access to lines of credit worth millions of pounds in return for an advance fee. He then diverted the stolen funds to Swiss bank accounts in an attempt to hide his fraudulent dealing.

Detectives from North Yorkshire and the West Midlands investigated Danison's transactions and made a breakthrough in March last year.

He was caught as he tried to launder 1.5m of his ill-gotten gains by buying Passenham Manor, a country house in Northamptonshire. Danison was due to stand trial at Birmingham Crown Court last Monday, but dramatically changed his plea at the last moment.

He admitted fraud and asked for other offences to be taken into consideration when he is sentenced at a later date.

Detective Sergeant Dave Edwards, of North Yorkshire Police's financial investigation unit, had been tracking Danison for two-and-a-half years after he stole 60,000 from a Harrogate man. Det Sgt Edwards, who also carried out investigations on behalf of West Yorkshire Police, the Metropolitan Police and Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "Danison created a very plausible persona as an extremely successful businessman.

"He was able to convince his victims that he had access to large sums of money and, as a result, he was able to defraud ordinary people of money they couldn't afford to lose.

"One victim has been forced to sell his house to cover the losses incurred as a result of Danison's deception. Another has had to lay off staff from her business in order to reduce costs. He has ruined many people's lives, both in the UK and abroad, and I'm delighted that he has finally been brought to justice."

The case is one of three significant triumphs in recent weeks for North Yorkshire Police's financial investigators.

Last week penniless lorry driver Anthony Lee was told to expect a "quite substantial" jail term for taking part in an outrageous scam to sell the Ritz Hotel in London for a cut-price 250m.

Southwark Crown Court heard that Lee, of Goole, but formerly from Harrogate, was at the heart of a con based on "one great big lie" – convincing potential buyer Terence Collins that he was a close friend and associate of the reclusive billionaire Barclay brothers, owners of the prestigious hotel in Piccadilly.

But Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay had never met or even heard of Lee and were completely unaware he was claiming to be able to sell their landmark building.

Another success for North Yorkshire Police came last month when a judge at Leeds Crown Court ruled that Trevor Morris, 65, should repay the 69,430 he made from his involvement in a 1.4m theft from Aviva in York.

Morris, from Pollington, near Goole, was jailed for two and a half years in November 2009 for his part in the fraud, which also involved an Aviva employee, John Taylor, and former Humberside Police officer Stephen Spellacy.

Morris was told he would be jailed for a another year and a half if he failed to repay his share of the proceeds within six months. Confiscation proceedings against his co-conspirators are to be heard in November.