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Diamond and wine fraudster escapes jail

A company director who duped collectors into handing over their fine wine in exchange for cheap diamonds has avoided jail with a suspended sentence.

Craig O’Driscoll, 32, of Oakbrook Close, Bromley near London was the director of a London-based company called Ethical Elegance Ltd. The company targeted individuals across the UK known to have fine wine collections, offering them large sums of money in return for their wines.

Victims across the country were offered a total of around £330,000 for their fine wine. One victim alone was offered more than £85,000, with O’Driscoll telling them that payment would be made in diamonds.

Fourteen victims transferred high value wines like Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1996 and Petrus 2000 to the company, but no money was ever received.

Instead, most were eventually sent “low value” diamonds through standard post, with 13 diamonds received valued at just short of £16,000.

The fine wines were quickly sold on by the company to two wine wholesalers, who bought the alcohol in good faith, generating around £175,000 for the bogus company.

The case was investigated by South Gloucestershire Council’s Trading Standards team after a local resident made a complaint in September 2013. At the time Ethical Elegance Ltd was still trading, but later went into liquidation.

O’Driscoll pleaded guilty to a single charge of Fraudulent Trading covering the activities of the company during 2013 earlier this year at a hearing on April 11.

He was handed a 16-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work at Bristol Crown Court and was also told to abide by a three-month curfew order.

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