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article imageConman found guilty for trying to sell London's The Ritz hotel

By Laura Trowbridge     Jul 2, 2010 in Crime
An unemployed East Yorkshire, UK truck driver was convicted of swindling £1 million in a £250 million scam. He tried to sell the prestigious Ritz hotel in Piccadilly, London.
Anthony Lee, 49, duped potential buyer and property developer Terence Collins into believing he could buy The Ritz and have huge future profits, all for the sum of £250m ($380 million) with the down payment of £1m in advance.
According to Google News, Lee convinced Collins he was a "close friend and associate" of the reclusive Barclay brothers who own the landmark London hotel. The brothers had never heard of Lee though, and had no intention of selling their hotel.
Collins asked Dutch billionaire Marcus Boekhoorn to finance a £1m deposit payment in December 2006, telling him that the Barclay brothers had their "secretive reasons" for selling The Ritz through a third party.
Sky News reported that Boekhoorn was taken on a tour of the hotel on the day the deposit money was transferred, which made the deal seem legitimate.
When Lee verified the cash was in his Irish account, he split it with his friend Patrick Dolan and the two went on a spending spree.
Dolan told the jury: "I had a good time. A wise man told me there's no shops in the graveyard."
Dolan was cleared of any involvement in the scam, but he spent £125,000 at the races, bought a £42,000 Mercedes and paid off his home's mortgage with the scammed money.
Collins sued when the promised paperwork never appeared, the sale of the hotel never happened, and the deposit money was never returned.
Lee was found guilty of obtaining the deposit money by deception, but cleared of conspiracy to defraud between January 1, 2006 and March 30, 2007, after the jury deliberated for over 14 hours in the four-week trial.
The judge remanded Lee in custody, telling him he will be facing an "immediate and quite substantial custodial sentence" when he is sentenced July 27.
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