A woman who fleeced £300,000 from her friends and family after conning them that she had the ‘Midas touch’ on the stock market has been jailed for two years.
Dishonest Sonia Hergest told her victims she had a surefire get-rich scheme and had turned a £10,000 stake into a million pounds in months.
But she was a Walter Mitty character who spent their money on a 19-month binge of luxury holidays, fast cars and horses.
Hergest, 38, spent over £90,000 on trips to St Lucia, Turkey, Cuba and the USA and took out more than £40,000 in cash.
When investors grew suspicious at the lack of returns on their money she pretended to have leukaemia to buy time and sympathy.
But eventually she confessed and admitted 15 counts of fraud over a 19-month period at Canterbury Crown Court.
Judge Simon James said she was a “Walter Mitty character” who had cynically abused the trust of her friends and family.
He told her: “You made yourself out as some sort of financial genius, persuading friends and family to invest by promising significant and immediate returns.
“You boasted that you were a millionaire-maker, claiming you had turned an initial investment of £10,000 into a million pounds within a few months.
“The reality of course was very different. In fact you were exaggerating the profits you were making to secure even more investors.
“You cynically serviced a lavish lifestyle of expensive holidays, well-furnished homes, horses and other luxuries.
“You took a significant amount of this money knowing that there was no prospect of any return for your investors.
“You took the money with no other intention other than spending on yourself.
“You cynically abused the trust of close friends and people who considered you as family. Far from being a victim of the economic downturn you are a thoroughly manipulative, dishonest and selfish individual.
“You clearly had no compunction of using other people’s hard-earned money to finance your own millionaire lifestyle. These offences were motivated out of greed.
“Your lies were such that at once you even descended the depths of falsely claiming that you had cancer to buy yourself more time.”
Hergest, from Margate, Kent, conned over 15 investors including a man who treated her as an adopted daughter and members of her own family and their close friends.
When police raided her rented home they found she had fled and left behind expensive furniture and shoes, bottles of expensive perfume and unwrapped presents.
Hergest – who is suffering from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and diabetes – used a walking aid and had to be helped into the dock.