A playboy property dealer who swindled £250,000 from pensioners has been jailed – as his victims APPLAUDED the verdict in court.
Marc Reeves, 46, ‘sold’ his victims retirement homes in France he didn’t even own and raked in bogus deposits and mortgage payments.
The bilingual conman took advantage of his victims’ lack of French to sign them up to “alarming” contracts – before frittering their pension funds on hotels and sports cars.
Reeves was jailed for three-and-a-half years at The Royal Court on Jersey after an extensive joint investigation by UK and French authorities.
Some of his elderly victims – several who had waited eleven years for justice – clapped and cheered in the public gallery as he was given the prison sentence.
Crown Advocate Richard Pedley, prosecuting, said: “Reeves held himself out as being able to sell and renovate properties using several company names.
“In some cases he did not own the property he was purporting to sell, and in some cases he owned them or claimed to own them knowing there were mortgages on the properties preventing them from being sold.”
Porsche-driving Reeves was introduced to the victims by a Jersey estate agent advertising French homes or through acquaintances who had used him to successfully buy property.
But the court heard British-born Reeves ripped off eight islanders between 2002 and 2007 by pretending to sell them land or homes.
He used his knowledge of the French property system and fluency in the language to dupe victims into parting with life savings and pensions so he could enjoy a lavish lifestyle staying in hotels and driving expensive cars.
His dishonesty caused “immense distress” to his victims, some of whom are now facing a drastic cut in their retirement funds, the court heard.
But sadly the victims of his French property scam will get back only a fraction of their money – #6,010 – because authorities in France have sold off the disputed houses.
Reeves, who also went under the name Marc MacIntosh, had a string of outstanding county court orders in the UK.
Mr Pedley said he took advantage of the fact his victims could not speak much French to “filter out” parts of the contract that would have otherwise seemed “alarming”.
He used the money for his own use, sometimes buying up the properties for himself.
Mr Pedley added: “They all follow the same pattern – the victims were introduced to Reeves by friends or third parties, he gained their trust and purported to sell them properties and charged them for renovations which were either not carried out or were done to an unacceptable standard.”
All the houses in France except one have had “forced sales” by the authorities so it is unlikely the victims will get any money back, the court heard.
Reeves has six county court judgements against him in the UK and his flash Porsche Cayenne has been impounded.
He was arrested on the Isle of Wight last November after a warrant was issued in Jersey.
Advocate Debbie Corbel, defending, said her client was remorseful and had caused great pain and distress to his own family.
Bailiff Sir Michael Birt, read out part of a victim impact statement which said: “Reeves almost brought us to breaking point.
“It was only by the grace of God that we are still together.”
He told Reeves, who admitted six counts of fraud and one of attempted fraud: “I hope you appreciate the emotional stress you have caused.”
Detective Sergeant Andy Smith, of Jersey’s Joint Financial Crimes Unit, praised the victims afterwards for their “courage and patience.”
He said: “This has been a long and complex enquiry but they have without doubt prevented other people falling victim to this man.
“Due to the complexity of gathering evidence from the French and UK authorities this investigation has taken some time, however it has remained focused on bringing Mr Reeves to justice.
“Marc Reeves is undoubtedly an accomplished fraudster who makes his money from the efforts of hard working people.
“The offences for which he has pleaded guilty and received a three and half year custodial sentence reflect the seriousness that both the court and the police take these crimes.”