Fraudster convicted for land scam after selling fake plot in Wellingborough

Ben Willison, aged 36, of Broadway Garden, Orpington
Ben Willison, aged 36, of Broadway Garden, Orpington

A fraudster has been convicted following his involvement in a fake land sale scam involving a plot in Wellingborough.

Ben Willison, aged 36, pleaded guilty to fraud offences at the Inner London Crown Court on Friday, February 17.

In February 2007, Willison contacted the first victim who came forward. Willison stated that he was the managing director of a firm called 'Grosvenor Land Brokerage'.

He informed his victim that he was involved in the sale of land in the Northamptonshire area which offered any potential investor the opportunity to receive an 80 percent yield on their investment within 12 months.

The following month, the client received a package which included a glossy land information document and offered a one percent discount.

After some discussion with a representative at the company, the victim agreed in early April 2007 to invest £9,900. This allegedly acquired him a piece of land on Chelveston Road in Wellingborough, which was allegedly being developed.

He was subsequently sent an agreement from the company confirming that plot and stating that it was registered at HM Land Registry.

In August that year, having been told that he could be repaid his investment at any time, the man asked for his money back, only to be told that he was locked into a five-year investment.

Four years later, he attempted to contact Grosvenor Land Brokerage but was informed that the company had been dissolved. He was left without his money or the land.

The victim contacted police, and officers from Southwark CID launched an investigation. They were unable to find Willison, however the case was left open.

On 31 January 2016, Willison was arrested at Heathrow Airport on an inbound flight from Thailand. He was later bailed pending further enquiries whilst officers continued to compile the case against him.

He was later rearrested on suspicion of money laundering offences. During interview, he admitted being involved with Grosvenor Land Brokerage but claimed that his business had failed due to overheads at an extreme cost to his own finances.

On 31 July 2016, Willison, of Broadway Garden, Orpington was charged.

Police identified a further two victims who invested a total of £19,500. Willison was interviewed in relation to the two new victims and answered "no comment" to all questions.

He was later summonsed to court to answer fraud and acquiring criminal property charges. He pleaded guilty to the charges in relation to the two new victims on February 17, 2017.

Willison will be sentenced at Inner London Crown Court on March 10, 2017.

Detectives strongly believe that there are other victims of Willison's scam who are yet to come forward and speak with police.

Detective Constable Michael Esangbedo, from Southwark CID, said: "Willison thought he had escaped justice due to the passage of time. Police are grateful to the three victims, enabling us to deal with this type of fraud which has become much too prevalent.

"I would urge anyone who has been a victim of Willison or Grosvenor Land Brokerage to contact police so that we can progress further lines of inquiry.

"He was professional in his operation and sounded genuine. It might be the case that someone does not yet realise that they have been defrauded.

"Willison offered to pay the money back and will be sentenced at a later date. I hope this brings some relief to the victims of his crime."

Anyone with any information or who believes they may have fallen victim to Ben Willison is advised to contact police via 101.