The Only Way Is Essex star Lewis Bloor shocked ‘fellow fraudsters’ when he left an alleged £ 3million diamond scam for ‘a police show’, a court has heard.
Bloor, 31, who joined the ITV2 reality show for three years from 2013, allegedly used the alias “Thomas Harkin” in a direct sales investment fraud.
Around 200 victims, many of whom were elderly, were said to have been swindled over £ 3million after being convinced to buy colored diamonds at a 600% mark-up.
Southwark Crown Court heard on Wednesday that Bloor had played a “key role” in the management of Imperial Assets Solutions (IAS), one of the two companies involved in the alleged scam, acting under instructions from James Ward, who did not is not judged.
Bloor did not work for the second company, Henderson & Forbes (H&F), established with Joseph Jordan, 29, as a director, to prosecute the fraud, said prosecutor David Durose QC.
“In the second half of 2013, his television career was starting to take off,” Durose told the jury on Wednesday.
“It meant he was less available to scam people from the end of the summer.
“This caused some dissatisfaction with other people who worked at the company, in particular with James Ward.”
He said Ward told Bloor in a message, “I’ve done so many things for you and you put a little show on it!”
“The two clearly fell out when Mr Bloor left,” he added.
The prosecutor said that other phone messages retrieved from Bloor’s MacBook showed he was “involved in dishonesty”, that he was “involved in controlling sales” and considered those who worked as “his boys.”
Mr Durose said the fraudsters were operating from more than one “floor”, with Bloor calling himself “Lewis of the Essex Floor”.
Bloor, of Buckhurst Hill, Essex, denies the existence of a fraudulent conspiracy between May 7, 2013 and July 1, 2014.
He is on trial alongside Jordan, of Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, George Walters, 29, of Beckenham, Kent, Max Potter, 25, of Enfield, Middlesex, Nathan Wilson, 28, of Brentwood, Essex, and Simon Akbari, 27, of Loughton, Essex, who also denies the charge.
The two companies involved are said to have claimed to be specialist brokers for people wishing to buy or sell top quality stones.
People were cold called and sent in glossy brochures with quotes from legitimate unconnected diamond company De Beers and office addresses in a prestigious Canary Wharf skyscraper and in Antwerp, the global hub of commerce. diamond, the court said.
The colored diamonds were sold to them as a real investment whose value would increase, we heard.
But the stones, which were bought from a wholesaler and resold with a profit margin of around 600%, could never have been a legitimate investment, it is claimed.
Jurors have learned that retired social worker Maureen Edwards lost over £ 27,000 after being called by Bloor’s pseudonym Thomas Harkin, “Richard Hall”, the name used by Ward, and a broker calling himself “Stephen Green”.
Maria Way, a retired lecturer, bought three diamonds from the IAS for £ 31,000, “wiping it out financially,” Mr Durose said.
Retired teacher Christine Truscott shelled out a total of £ 122,500 after learning she would make a 22-25% profit, the jury said.
And recently retired Maurice Wynes was persuaded to buy two more diamonds for over £ 16,000 from H&F, having already handed over nearly £ 100,000 to the IAS, it has been said.
The trial continues Thursday.