A wealthy businessman who conned dozens of investors in a £3m scam is today behind bars.
Mortgage firm boss David Reid tricked 51 people, some of them friends and associates, out of huge sums in a scam a judge labelled a “bare-faced fraud”.
One of his victims was a great-grandmother, who trusted him as a friend of the family and said he even read a eulogy at her husband’s funeral a week before taking her money.
She said she realised Reid was a Jekyll and Hyde character after finding out he had fleeced her out of £31,000, including her husband’s pension.
The 67-year-old, who was at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday along with other victims to see Reid plead guilty, said: “We thought he was a good friend of the family, when my husband died of cancer he walked behind the coffin to the church and gave a eulogy in the church standing in front of the coffin.
“He told us, before my husband died, that he could invest some money for us to help me once my husband had gone.
“He gave this spiel about my husband being such a good friend but what he did just makes a mockery of the whole thing. We thought he was a good friend but he was standing there at the funeral knowing he would take my money off me a week later.”
The pensioner said she believes she was taken in by Reid and said the revelation she had been conned “hit me hard”.
She said: “He was like Jekyll and Hyde, he was totally believable.
“I think that’s why it hit me so hard. I couldn’t believe it, I felt totally taken in by him.”
Reid, of Burnhope, County Durham, pleaded guilty to 22 offences of obtaining a money transfer by deception and one of participating in a fraudulent business. The offences span 12 years, from 2001 to 2013.
The charges relate to a long-running fraud investigation by police involving the Washington Mortgage Centre, formerly based in the Galleries in Washington.
The total value of the frauds Reid admitted is £1.6m but police say they are just specimen charges and the true value of the scam is more than £3m.
Sentence was adjourned until next month but Reid was remanded in custody after entering his guilty pleas at Newcastle Crown Court.
Judge Guy Whitburn QC said: “This is an appalling fraud on people who trusted him, in an area where he was extremely well known and others recommended him. This was a bare-faced fraud. It is inevitable that as serious a fraud as this will be punished by a substantial period of imprisonment. My view is that should start now.”
Officers searched Reid’s £500,000 home, a large detached house at St John’s Mews in the village of Burnhope, near Lanchester, County Durham, and an office linked to the centre when the allegations came to light.
Reid, 49, is a member of the Durham North West Labour Party, and was suspended by the party soon after his arrest.