Manchester United legend’s brother in law found “high net worth” investors to be scammed

David Beckham’s former brother-in-law found “high net worth” investors to be scammed as part of a £800,000 boiler room fraud.

Darren Flood’s fellow fraudsters then “made great play” of his ties to the Manchester United legend to con pensioners.

The former husband of Victoria Beckham’s sister was a director of The Commodities Link which cold-called elderly people to sell them worthless “rare earth metals”

One potential target was the dad of former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole.

Flood, 40, was convicted of fraud after a ten week trial at Kingston Crown Court and will be sentenced next month.

Victims were encouraged to buy “rare earth” metals which are mainly used to make tech products with the promise of big profits but paid up to 200 times over the odds.

They invested more than £800,000 between April 2012 and August 2014 – but the materials had no resale value.

One victim, Peter John Harris, told the trial he was cold-called by a man called Paul Roberts, who was really Paul Muldoon, 34, who talked up the Becks link.

Mr Harris, who lost £100,000 in the scheme, said: “I don’t think he mentioned a great deal about the company itself.

“He did make a play about his experience in the marketplace and that of the partners.

“He also, even at that early stage, made great play about Darren Flood being involved as a director.”

Prosecuting, Stephen Shay asked: “What did he say about Darren Flood?”

Mr Harris said: “That he was the brother-in-law of David Beckham, which I suppose was supposed to give me confidence in the company.”

Mr Shay added: “He, Paul Roberts, made great play of Darren Flood being David Beckham’s brother in law.”

Muldoon admitted his involvement in the fraud before the trial.

Flood was responsible for marketing and branding as set out in a “roles and responsibilities” PowerPoint uncovered by police.

He received more than £26,000 from the company for “media and advertising work” and joined as a director in June 2012 opening its two bank accounts with Coutts bank later that year.

But in company documents he was accused by colleagues of not performing on “any level” other than to “extract expenses.”

Flood was a director of the company between June 2012 and April 2013 and “tensions” with colleagues were revealed in several documents uncovered by detectives.

One, titled “TCL requirements”, said: “Jonny and Darren need to talk with high net worth clients, people, potential customers that you know.

“Since June we have been talking about Joe Cole’s dad.”

The document, which was meant for co-defendant Jonathan Docker, 32, who was also convicted, said the company’s “output is terrible”.

It said: “The politics between you and Darren must be sorted.

“The business is on its knees over where leads get sent. That is f**king ridiculous.”

Mr Shay said: “That document would appear to suggest Darren Flood and Jonny Docker were not getting on particularly well while TCL was in operation.”

The document went on: “Darren has not performed on any level other than to charge money to the business and extract expenses.

“He got a bank account but this could have been done with any high street bank.

“Darren threatens to leave and close the bank accounts. This is a common threat and makes progressing the business very difficult.”

The Commodities Link was “wound up” by the High Court on August 29, 2014.

The company also edited negative comments from news articles about rare earth elements from China to trick potential investors.

Mr Shay said: “One would get a positive impression reading about China in these news clips.

“But the real article had a paragraph that said this: ‘rare earth prices traded down last week as news broke that the world’s premier trade organisation is set to investigate China’s export and tariff policies.’

“Would-be investors reading that prices were down last week would not be encouraged to invest.”

Another victim, Mavis Wright, said she was wined and dined by Muldoon who convinced her to hand over £41,000 using the name Paul Roberts.

She said: “I’m normally quite acute to this sort of thing but they seemed very convincing and with all the documents they sent, they reeled me in further.

“At no point did I ever suspect I was going to lose all the money I had given them.

“When we had lunch we never discussed anything to do with the investment or my money which I thought was strange – we were only with him for a few hours.

“All during this time I had no idea whatsoever that this was a scam.”

Flood and Gennaro Fiorentino, 38, Jonathan Docker, 32, Mark Whitehead, 59, and Vikki King, 39, were convicted of fraud by false representation.

Stephen Todd, 37, pleaded guilty to the one count of fraud by false representation at an earlier hearing.

Ike Obiamiwe, 56, and Daniel Jordan, 35, were convicted of money laundering from the alleged fraud.

They will be sentenced together during a two-day hearing at Kingston Crown Court next month.

Tarun Jain, 50, faces a retrial in April accused of money laundering.

By Lewis Pennock

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