Two Convicted In Massive British Swindle
LONDON (AP) _ Two men who lured victims with false claims that they had ties to former U.S. President Bush were convicted Wednesday in a $19.5 million fraud case.
Prosecutors said Charles Deacon and James Fuller were helped by a now-dead American, John Savage, who claimed to be a ranking CIA agent.
Deacon, a 52-year-old lawyer, and Fuller, a 56-year-old salesman, now face up to 14 years in jail at their sentencing Thursday.
The jury, which heard 3 1/2 months of evidence, convicted the men on a variety of fraud counts after deliberating for four hours.
Prosecutors said Deacon presented himself to victims as an honest lawyer. He kept a large photograph of Bush in his office and claimed to be on first-name terms with the then-president.
Awestruck visitors probably never realized these initialed photos were available for purchase in the United States, the prosecutors said.
Among the victims was the British cookie company Belling, which in May 1991 was talked into raiding 2 million pounds, about $3 million, from its pension funds with promises of life-saving loans at a time when the Enfield-based company was experiencing a cash crisis.
Deacon and Fuller showed Belling executives a forged letter from National Westminster Bank and said they could arrange a loan for 750 million pounds, about $1.1 billion, if Belling paid one year’s worth of interest up front.
The Belling managers dipped into the pension fund _ but never saw the money again. The company went under in 1992.
Other fraud victims included corporations in Russia and Finland.