Sam Eustace, 36, from Sutton in south London has been disqualified as a director for 11 years for operating a Ponzi style property scheme.
Kingsman Property Ltd offered property owners a guaranteed rent by taking over their properties and managing them in a rent to rent operation. In addition, Eustace’s company offered investors a 30% return for investing their capital in rental houses for multiple occupancy (HMOs).
The company, set up in October 2015 originally trading as Samuel James Ltd, but changed its name to Kingsman Property Ltd in May 2017. The business took at least £6.7 million from unsuspecting investors before going into liquidation in August 2019.
An Insolvency Service investigation found that between October 2016 and March 2019, Kingsman Property paid out over £3 million to investors, but this was funded by money received from new investors rather than any actual return on investment, a classic Ponzi scheme.
Kingsman Property states on its Facebook page that it is “led by a successful entrepreneur who combines his love of property with financial acumen…who is honest and trustworthy.”
The company accounts showed the business was in fact insolvent as early as June 2017, with debts totalling nearly £700,000. Its deficit grew exponentially, and it owed nearly £5 million when it eventually went into liquidation.
Eustace himself received dividends from the company between November 2017 and June 2019 amounting to nearly £400,000.
Eustace admitted causing Kingsman Property to trade with a lack of commercial probity, including offering false representations to investors as to the return they could get. His ban as a company director runs from 24 March 2022 and lasts for 11 years. This prevents him from directly, or indirectly, becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company, without the permission of the court.
Since it became possible to drawn down cash from personal pension pots there’s been a dramatic increase in these types of financing investment frauds, and property has featured prominently in these schemes. Fraudsters like Eustace promise high returns with low risk but more often than not pension savers who invest are left with nothing.
Once the investor’s hard earned money is gone, it’s almost impossible to get it back and once savers realise they’ve been scammed, it can have devastating effects; many have lost their their life savings and some have lost their lives as a result.
Seminar trainers and scammers
Property is an ideal vehicle for these types of scammers as it is generally seen by the public as a safe investment. It is also attractive to those younger investors who seek a route to financial and lifestyle freedom through the many property training seminars available, many of which are touting outlandish claims.
With interest rates hovering around the 1% mark or less for some time now, and inflation tipped to reach 8%, those who want to see a better return on their money, or are in need of income in these straightened times, might be tempted to go along with exaggerated promises.
But the well worn phrase – if it seems to good to be true, it probably is – is advice well worth taking onboard.