Golf scam pensioner swindled pair out of £400,000

A PENSIONER conman tricked two Yorkshire businessmen out of more than £400,000 after posing as a farming aristocrat with an ancestral family home in Scotland.

John Cameron went to great lengths to maintain his deception after hijacking the identity of his namesake John Bell Cameron, the genuine owner of Balbuthie Farm in Fife, which he pretended to be developing as a golfing and hotel complex.

He drove expensive cars, dressed in country clothes, commissioned an architect to prepare plans and at one point even showed the first businessman and his son, a golfing professional, around the estate lands along with Greg Norman's golf course planner.

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He told them they could not go in the house because it was rented to the Church of Scotland but afterwards took them to the local pub, where he was on first name terms with the landlord.

The complex deception was being carried on without the real owner's knowledge and was aimed at encouraging the businessman to continue investing with him, Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday.

But Cameron's dishonesty came to light in 2007 when, after telling the victims he was going on an extended holiday in Canada, they discovered he had, in fact, been jailed for three years for another fraud using a dead friend's identity.

Cameron, now 79, of Windmill Lane, Yeadon, Leeds, admitted six charges of obtaining a money transfer by deception and one of fraud by false representation involving a total of 432,500.

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Jailing him for four years, Judge Penelope Belcher said the offences revealed a considerable degree of planning and sophistication.

"Plainly you are an intelligent man and were able to think through methods by which to dupe the complainants into thinking you were someone else."

She said he had told both victims he was ex-military and an experienced businessman. "People believed that Balbuthie was your ancestral family home because that is what you told them."

In 2003 he had tried to extend his business overdraft by claiming that but was unsuccessful because he could not produce a land certificate. "Therefore you turned your sights elsewhere and persuaded these men to part with their money."

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The judge said Cameron had a considerable record for similar dishonesty stretching back to 1955 and had chosen not to reveal this dishonesty when previously before the court in 2007 so it could be dealt with at that time. He must now bear the consequences.

Mark McKone, prosecuting, said the first complainant was introduced to Cameron by a financial advisor and invested some money into genuine firms with him, but Cameron wanted more.

It was then he gave him the tale about his ancestral estate and his plan to convert it, promising a half-share in the project if the plans were successful.

The second businessman gave Cameron a loan after he was told he had sold his businesses for 3m and moved to Leeds because of losing money in Lloyds.

Paul Cabin, for Cameron, said he was a Walter Mitty character who genuinely believed his companies would come good.