A horse racing conman has been jailed after fleecing punters out of more than £200,000.
Christopher Beek was a racehorse owner who had winners both under his own name and the Kachina Racing brand. But he fraudulently sold shares in horses he owned, and offered gambling syndicates for which he did not have the means to pay out.
Beek’s list of crimes also included paying punters back some of the losses in a attempt to prove his trust, while posing as a private detective to help them get the rest….for a fee, that is.
All in all, his victims were conned out of £204,000, with the total figure after repayments a still whopping £164,000.
He was eventually found out when promising to remain the monies owed, despite having barely a penny to his name. Beek has been jailed for just under six years after pleading guilty to charges of fraud.
The 36-year-old had worked as a groom for Mick Channon after an injury ended his hopes of a career as a jockey, and he subsequently set up his own training yard.
“He lost the yard in 2013,” said Beek’s defence lawyer, Simon Worlock. “He had 20 horses, and he sold them for a pittance and tried to live on his wits providing racing tips, but he got completely overwhelmed with what he was doing and then he starts to lie.
“It’s telling lie upon lie to cover up lie upon lie. He’s not a man who set out from the start to commit fraud, but someone who drifted into it and then could not find a way out.”
It was an explanation that drew short shrift from the presiding Judge Lockhart, who told him: “You find yourself here in respect of serious criminality. The schemes were broadly fictitious. You lost money, and you simply asked for more. It was a three-year sophisticated fraud. The web of lies has been hard to unravel.
“There was a bewildering cast of fictitious persons, betting systems, internet accounts, and then, using your own name and six other names, you wove a web of deception.”
The first victim of Beek’s scheming was an offshore oil rig worker, who signed up for a paid membership to a betting system that was ‘guaranteed’ a return.
The victim invested more than £5,000 in total, seeing a return of £1,200, and when he chased Beek for repayment he was met with a flurry of excuses.
Beek then invented an alter ego, Charles Symonds, who was a self-professed sports betting expert, and the oil rig worker was persuaded to part with another £2,000 to pay for tipping services.
The hapless individual also forked out £3,000 for fine wines from France and another three grand for computer systems; none of which existed, with all money going into a Kachina Racing holding account.
One farmer ended up losing more than £120,000 by investing in tipping sites ran by a variety of Beek’s aliases, including Alan Nugent, Phil Clark and Michael Taylor, through whom he set performance emails and automated betting tips.
When the man realised he was being conned by the same individual, Beek threatened him by boasting of ‘IRA links’.
He has also in the past imitated a private detective, ‘helping’ Beek’s own victims to recoup their losses for a flat fee.