Lewis Bloor attended court in London on Monday (Picture: Getty Images)
The Only Way Is Essex star Lewis Bloor attended court today as the trial into a £3million diamond scam began.
The 31-year-old reality star appeared at the Southwark Crown Court on Monday where he denied conspiracy to defraud between May 7, 2013 and July 1, 2014.
Mr Bloor is on trial alongside Joseph Jordan, 29, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, George Walters, 29, from Beckenham, in Kent, Max Potter, 25, of Enfield, Middlesex, Nathan Wilson, 28, of Brentwood, Essex, and Simon Akbari, 27, from Loughton, Essex.
The court heard how more than 200 victims, many of who were elderly, were allegedly conned into buying small, coloured stones as an investment after being ‘told lies’ during cold calls.
The alleged fraud relates to two companies, Imperial Assets Solutions and Henderson & Forbes, which were involved in selling coloured diamonds.
‘Each one of these six defendants was involved in both, with one exception, Lewis Bloor, who left at some point in 2013 to pursue a career in television,’ said prosecutor David Durose QC.
‘In total, over 200 people were conned into buying coloured diamonds and the companies defrauded those people out of a total of well over £3m.’
The 31-year-old has denied conspiracy to defraud (Picture: WireImage)
Mr Durose said police took the statements of dozens of alleged victims who had reportedly been encouraged to part with a chunk of their life savings or pension pots.
‘All of those involved tell a similar story. Every single one of them has lost their money,’ Mr Durose told the court.
He explained that there was an advantage to fraudulently trading in coloured diamonds because the price of their white counterparts is more easily available.
The two firms involved allegedly presented themselves as specialist brokers for people wanting to buy or sell investment grade stones, with brochures boasting of an ‘outstanding track record of meeting the needs of our clients’.
The jury heard how potential investors were cold called by salesmen using false names and sold the diamonds as an investment which would increase in value.
‘Those representations that were made to those customers were false, they were lies,’ the prosecutor said.
Mr Bloor appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2016 (Picture: WireImage)
‘Because of the price they were sold at and the circumstances in which they were sold, they could never have been a genuine investment opportunity.’
Mr Durose told jurors the stones were bought from a wholesaler and sold on with a mark-up of around 600%, with a £5,000 investment securing diamonds originally purchased for around £750.
However, most buyers never saw their diamonds, which were stored in a bonded warehouse in Geneva, with payments made through a law firm or accountancy company to give legitimacy.
The resale price would be even lower than £750, and they were ‘all but valueless’ to the investors, who would have had to pay 20% VAT on their investment before they could be sold.
‘Invariably, that would be more than the diamond was actually worth,’ Mr Durose said.
Mr Bloor is best known for his role on Towie, which he joined in series 10 in 2013. He quit during the 17th series in 2016 and went on to appear on Celebrity Big Brother in the same year, finishing 10th on the reality show.
The trial continues on Tuesday.
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