Yorkshire father and son fraudsters blew £7 million on yacht, luxury cars and Star Wars figures

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A father and son at the head of a Yorkshire fraud gang who made almost £7 million frittered away their illegally fortune on luxury property, fast cars, a yacht, jewellery....and Star Wars figures.

Keith and Lee Wharton have assets of just £144,000 left over to compensate scores of victims duped out of life savings and pensions in a bogus property investment scam.

The Leeds-based crooks led a life of luxury by spending vast amounts on high living while some investors ended up living in poverty.

The Whartons and two other men are serving prison sentences totalling 34 years.

Bogus Yorkshire investment gang left victims in poverty

The judge who jailed the Whartons in November 2016 said victims had been left in financial ruin while they sunned themselves on yachts in Spain or drove Aston Martins, Lamborghinis or Maseratis

The pair were returned to Leeds Crown Court to face a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The court heard Keith Wharton, 61, who was the ringleader, benefited by £6,844,663 as a result of the eight year deception.

James Lake, prosecuting, said he has assets available of just £58,783.

The sum is made up from the value of four Rolex watches and jewellery.

They were seized from him when he was arrested as he flew into the UK to sell them when he was desperate for cash.

Mr Lake said investigators had scrutinised Keith’s finances but were unable to find any other assets.

He added that there was evidence that a yacht bought by him during the period of offending had been scrapped.

The court heard Lee Wharton benefiitted by £4,007,210 as a result of the offending but had £86,183 in assets.

That figure is made up from equity flats on Park Row and Whitehall in Leeds city centre and money a bank account in Hong Kong from the sale of a Mustang Shelby.

The sum also includes the value of the personalised number plate CUM 2, a Star Wars figures collection worth £11,250, photographic equipment worth £10,000, Games Workshop figures worth £9,825 and Bang and Olufsen speakers worth £1,500.

Mr Lake said: “The evidence was that he spent most, if not all of the money sent to him by his father.”

The Whartons could be returned to court in the future and ordered to pay more if evidence came to light that they had other assets.

Judge Guy Kearl, QC, ordered that the Whartons pay the available sum within three months of have 18 months added to their prison sentences.

A third defendant, former Leeds-based solicitor Stephen Pickard, is expected to face a similar Proceeds of Crime Act hearing later this year.