Southwark Crown Court issues 5-year prison sentence to Mark Starling over investment fraud

Maria Nikolova

Starling defrauded investors of nearly £3 million in relation to unauthorised investment schemes he operated between 2008 and 2017.

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has marked a victory in fighting investment scams, as Mark Barry Starling was today sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to 5 years of imprisonment.

Starling defrauded investors of nearly £3 million in relation to unauthorised investment schemes he operated between 2008 and 2017. During this 9-year period, Starling purported to run investment funds and obtained investment monies from his friends and acquaintances. They entrusted him with just under £3 million of their money.

In sentencing, HHJ Bartle QC said that Starling had defrauded investors in an ‘appalling way’. The Judge said that ‘not one word of what [Mr Starling told investors] was true’ and characterized Starling’s claims to his victims as ‘a pack of lies’.

Starling purported to be running three funds, the ‘Pilot Dax Fund’, the ‘Shadow Dax Fund’ and the ‘Pilot Eurostoxx Fund’, and claimed he was a ‘proprietary futures trader’. He traded meager £8,000 of the £3 million invested with him, on which he made a loss of £2,450, yet managed to spend over £1 million maintaining his own lifestyle.

Starling now and then paid money back to his investors on request to keep the illusion of running a successful investment business. In reality, however, these payments were just funded from other victims’ investment money – a typical feature of a pyramid scheme.

In order to cover up his deception and prolong the fraud, Starling also forged documents and correspondence purporting to be from brokerages, and bank statements. He also registered web domain names and created email addresses in names similar to a legitimate brokerage, and for an entirely fictitious brokerage. The Judge noted that the forgeries were ‘sophisticated’ and the whole scheme demonstrated the way that Starling had ‘abused a position of trust’.

Starling was never authorised by the FCA to carry out any regulated activity.

A total of 24 investors are found to have invested money into the funds, of whom 17 lost a total of around £1.8 million. At the hearing, the FCA commenced confiscation proceedings against Starling, and it is expected that the victims will get some limited compensation from funds restrained by the FCA in April 2017.

Starling received a sentence of 5 years imprisonment for an offence of Fraud by False Representation under Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006 and a concurrent sentence of 12 months imprisonment for Breach of the General Prohibition under S19 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 in that he operated a collective investment scheme without being FCA authorised or exempt.

Read this next

Digital Assets

Paxos opens R&D center in Israel to focus on transaction signing and crypto custody security

“Paxos is looking to expand its team in Israel in 2023 and beyond, giving engineers the opportunity to work on cutting-edge financial products and shape the future of the global economy.”

Executive Moves

Stash appoints Liza Landsman as CEO to further grow investing app

Stash is an investing and banking app with over 2 million active subscribers. Its subscription plans start at just $3 a month, and offer a range of products including investing, banking, education, and advice.

Institutional FX

Invast Global ramps up its offering with 10 soft commodity CFDs

Sydney-based prime-of-prime provider Invast Global has expanded its offering with the addition of ten soft commodity CFDs, which increases their index and commodity CFD offering to 35 instruments.

Retail FX

FF Simple and Smart Trades says Goodbye to CySEC authorization

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) confirmed that it has wholly withdrawn the Cyprus Investment Firm (CIF) licenses of FF Simple and Smart Trades Investment Services Ltd.

Crypto Insider

Shining the Light in Crypto’s Dark Places

Something changed in regulators’ minds after the November crash of the FTX crypto exchange.

Executive Moves

Financial Commission Adds Sam Low to Dispute Resolution Committee

The Financial Commission (FinaCom PLC), a dispute resolution service that caters to the financial services industry, has appointed Sam Low as the newest member of its Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC).

Digital Assets, Uncategorized

De-facto owner of Bithumb exchange arrested in South Korea

South Korean prosecutors have arrested Kang Jong-Hyun, the anonymous chairman and owner of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Bithumb, on charges of embezzlement and stock manipulation.

Retail FX

Interactive Brokers volumes snap three-month losing streak

Electronic brokerage firm Interactive Brokers LLC (NASDAQ:IBKR) said its trading volumes rose in January, an indication that investor confidence in the financial markets is rebounding after having been fairly mixed over the past few months.

Digital Assets

VVF invests $5 million in Everscale, a potential Layer 2 solution for Venom blockchain

“For us, this is a strategic investment aimed at the technological development of projects and teams around technologies that we focus on and actively develop. In particular, we are talking about the Venom blockchain project and its ecosystem, which is planned to be launched soon and for which Everscale is a potential Layer 2 solution.”