Gambling addict jailed for £50,000 North-east fraud

A GAMBLING addict who tricked investors into handing over their savings has been jailed.

Andrew Cunnington took out adverts in a North-East newspaper in 2006 claiming to have “extensive knowledge” of finance before executing the £50,000 swindle.

The 48-year-old promised that clients would receive 12 monthly payments, as well as the return of their initial investement through his company Pure Gold Ltd.

Clients were unaware that he was using their money to place bets on horse and dog racing through online bookmakers Betfair. They were duped into handing over their savings after Cunnington promised better returns than the banks, between October 2006 and July 2008.

One Aberdeen pensioner who invested £10,000 went to Cunnington’s house at Banff’s Castle Street when a monthly payment cheque failed to clear, only to discover that he had moved away.

When the 62-year-old traced him to a nearby B&B, he gave her a cheque for £1,000. Money from other investors was used to pay the woman sporadic monthly payments, many of which failed to clear.

The woman lost £4,350 while other investors, some relatives of Cunnington, lost up to £13,000, resulting in a total loss of £46,620.

Debbie Wilson, defending, said that Cunnington had been attending Gamblers’ Anonymous since returning to Market-Drayton in Shropshire and that “several more investors got their money back”.

She said: “Mr Cunnington was clear not to mention stocks or shares and investors received a share in his company Pure Gold.A report talks about him having a level of intelligence but what he didn’t do was apply that intelligence.”

Sentencing Cunnington to two years imprisonment, reduced to 16 months to reflect an early plea of guilty to embezzlement, Sheriff Reid said: “I must take into account the nature of this offence and the impact that it had on these individuals.”

“This was a fairly sophisticated scheme carried out over a long period of time. Looking at your previous convictions for dishonesty, I have no choice but to impose a custodial sentence.”