1:10pm Monday 14th May 2012
AN independent financial adviser, who conned a widow out of £105,000 to pay his debts, has begun a 32-month jail sentence.
Southampton Crown Court heard how Anthony Gough, 56, offered advice in life investments through his company New Forest Financial Management.
His financial problems began when he suffered from cancer and had to stop working.
When he returned to work, he saw a gap in the market and set up another company, Mortgage Wizard, specialising in mortgages.
“The business started to boom but he needed more money to expand but could not do so because of his debts he had incurred through his illness,” said prosecutor Audrey Archer.
Following the death of her husband, Elizabeth Ibaldi received a call from Gough saying he had taken over her affairs from another adviser. But Gough betrayed her trust by suggesting she should take £105,000 from one company and switch the cash to another called F&C to get a better return for her investment.
He warned her she would not receive a return for five years and sent her a brochure about the investment that he had created on his computer.
However Mrs Ibaldi became suspicious when she did not receive any statements and tried getting hold of Gough, who was unresponsive.
So she contacted F&C, who found no record of the investment.
Gough told police he had used £70,000 to pay off debts and the rest was put into a business. He accepted he had fabricated the documents, saying he had hoped to repay the money but realised because of the economic climate that was unlikely, and he “had put his head in the sand”.
Gough, of Velvet Lawn Road, New Milton, admitted one count of fraud.
Passing sentence, Recorder Peter Fraser told him: “She was vulnerable and you were in a position of trust. This was a confidence fraud carried out with planning.”
In mitigation, Peter Asteris said Gough had worked in the finance industry for 30 years with a good reputation.
He added: “It wasn’t a crime of malice. He was trying to use the opportunity to put his life back on track.”
The court heard that Mrs Ibaldi had been repaid.
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