Racing star conned millionaire hotel tycoon in £737k fraud
02 September 2011
A former motorcross champion has been jailed after conning a hotel tycoon in order to pay off his mortgage.
Julian Clark, 45, befriended Richard Balfour-Lynn, the chief executive of an investment company that owns the Malmaison hotel chain, and convinced him to hand over tens of thousands of pounds.
The millionaire was one of 20 different unsuspecting victims the motorcycling veteran, who also ran the Linda McCartney Pro Cycling Team, managed to defraud of £737,000 in total. The victims were mainly neighbours, friends or associates from the motorcross world - Balfour-Lynn was met on rural cycling routes in Kent.
Clark convinced people that the money was for buying and selling high value part-exchange motor vehicles or bankruptcy gym equipment, and importing motocross bikes from Belgium and Holland.
Maidstone Crown Court heard that the car deal started out as a genuine offer, but descended "rapidly" into fraud.
Between November 2006 and December 2009 he used money from one victim to reimburse another and his stalling tactics included bounced cheques and forged bank transfers.
One ruse he used was to send an investor a picture text message showing piles of cash, with the caption: "This is what I have been waiting for", reported local press.
In fact, Clark had been using much of the money to pay his own mortgage and day to day living expenses, but there was nothing to suggest he was living in luxury.
Clark actually paid back much of the money but there is still an outstanding amount of £317,000 that will be the subject of confiscation proceedings in January.
He admitted 22 offences of fraud by false representation and two similar offences, which he denied, will be left on file.
The former motorcross star was jailed for three-and-a-half years. It was also revealed he has a previous conviction for a similar £300,000 fraud.