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Two Sussex members of gang who scammed millions of pounds out of victims in betting syndicate jailed
A gang of three men have been jailed for their part in a £5 million scam which conned hundreds of people out of their life savings.
One victim told how he lost more than £110,000 and is now in debt after falling for the trio's trick.
John 'Jock' McCracken, Matthew Thole and John Brice were jailed after fraudulently obtaining up to £5 million from victims nationwide over a five-year period.
The group claimed they were part of a successful betting syndication where customers paid fees in advance to join, lured by the promise of excellent returns.
This guarantee was backed up by glossy brochures distributed among homes in Sussex boasting glowing testimonials - all of which were false.
The customers who had invested money, including many pensioners, received nothing in return.
Victim David Brown, 64, said he met Thole at a race meeting at Ascot in the 1980s - who then went on to take more than £110,000 from him.
Mr Brown, of Northern Ireland, told how he received one of Thole's betting tip brochures in 2002.
He said: “I thought me and Matt [Thole] were kindred spirits.
“I would love to know if he was in collusion with McCracken all along - if they targeted me.”
Mr Brown revealed how he initially invested £15,000 in their betting syndication, expecting returns of about 40%.
He subsequently invested £55,000 and when the trio learnt he was eligible for credit invested a further £40,000 - money he is now paying off, leaving him in dire financial straits.
Jobless McCracken, 47, of Whitehawk Road, Brighton, and company director Thole, 40, of Cefn Mably Park, Michaelston-y-Fedw, Cardiff, have been jailed for four years each.
Self-employed Brice, 40, of Sandringham Drive, Hove, has been jailed for five years.
Police are still hunting Jeffrey Bloor, 39, of Lancing, in relation to the same conspiracy.
The trio were found guilty at Lewes Crown Court of a number of counts including between April 2003 and February 2008 of conspiring with each other and others to make false claims in relation to the betting services, making false claims in relation to the investment services and seeking and receiving payment in relation to the services.
Detective Constable Valerie Henwood said: “This case serves as a timely reminder to horse racing punters - be very careful about entrusting your money to anyone.
“The old saying applies - if something looks too good to be true, it usually is."
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