Duncan Grant, a Crowborough man who deceived clients to fund his extravagant lifestyle, was sentenced to twelve and a half years in prison at Lewes Crown Court. The 54-year-old from Chillies Lane pleaded guilty to a series of fraud and directorship offences on May 9, with sentencing taking place on June 1.
Over the course of six years, Grant crafted a large-scale fraudulent operation, convincing multiple individuals to invest in his cash spoiling device company, Patronus, and in purchasing ATMs to recondition. Although Patronus was a legitimate enterprise, Grant only invested a fraction of the money he received into the company and did not purchase any ATMs. The estimated £3.8 million he received was largely used to fund his own lifestyle, with only £549k going towards the company.
The funds were misused to support the expensive tastes of Grant and his wife, including luxury £1million+ rented homes, cars, holidays, and jewellery.
In his fraud scheme, Grant manipulated people into giving him money by establishing close relationships, exploiting common interests, real or fabricated. He even leveraged his parents’ illnesses to garner sympathy from his victims, making false claims about needing financial assistance for their care.
An investigation into Grant’s fraudulent actions was initiated by the Surrey Police and Sussex Police’s Economic Crime Unit (ECU) in December 2019, following multiple victim reports. The probe unveiled his history of bankruptcies, name changes, and directorship of 16 companies. Investigators worked tirelessly, sifting through mobile phones, iPads, laptops, and thousands of emails and paper exhibits to decipher Grant’s actions. The ECU managed to trace the complex money trail through Grant’s multiple accounts, demonstrating his deliberate efforts to make tracking the money difficult.
Charged with 18 counts of fraud and 18 counts of directorship offences in October 2021, Grant’s sentencing marks the conclusion of a complex investigation.
Detective Constable Fleur Jones, of the Surrey and Sussex Economic Crime Unit, said: “This was a complex investigation where Grant had moved monies between many bank accounts in order to try to obfuscate where over £3million of victims’ money disappeared to. One of the things I felt was important was to be able to tell those victims exactly what their money was spent on by Grant. Between us, my team were able to trace the journey of each person’s money through numerous accounts and transactions until we found that it had been spent, amongst other things, on rentals for luxury homes, fast cars, jewellery, Rolex watches, holidays, and expensive meals in top restaurants.
“Grant lived a life that many could only dream of, using other people’s money that they had invested in him in good faith, thinking he was either using it to develop a business or that he was helping his elderly parents. In convicting Grant, we worked tirelessly to obtain justice for these victims, many of whom thought were his friend.”