Article by Charlie Wright
On Monday one of my readers sent a link to a story in The Argus, a Brighton newspaper. It read:
BRIGHTON TWINS JAILED FOR 5 MILLION BETTING SCAM
Paul and Gregory Spicer, twins from Brighton, have just been put away for seven years for defrauding punters. A guy called Lee O’Donnell was also involved.
You may have got one of their sales brochures in the past…
Some of the names they used on their leaflets include John Jock McCracken…. Robert Carter… and Paul Howell Racing. You may recognise these from old issues of The Biz Opp Jungle.
Intrigued, I did a bit of digging behind the story…
Turns out these guys were allegedly behind something called ‘The Guildford Vet’! This may even be the magic milkshake guy I was talking about (it was so long ago when I covered it, I’ve lost the original brochure).
The same people were also responsible for the classic ‘helicopter’ sales pitch.
And this one is REALLY audacious…
The letter was from a helicopter pilot who boasted of rubbing shoulders every week with the racing elite. A photo showed him apparently leaving his helicopter with Aiden O’Brien, the famous Irish horse trainer.
All convincing stuff.
All total tosh, too.
Saying that, it appears these guys didn’t go down for these alleged promotions… but for promoting other betting services. The Argus article declined to explain how exactly it was fraud. It was all very vague indeed.
Were they jailed for offering betting tips? For being unregulated? For lying in their sales pitches? For not offering a service after being paid?
You’d think journalists would mention these details.
In response to the article, a couple of Argus readers actually come out in support of these guys.
One reader says:
“I’m not saying that what they did was acceptable by any stretch of the imagination… but they are going to lose all their assets AND be kept from their families (at tax payers’ expense) for at least three and a half years but if I got violently robbed in the street the offender would walk away with a fraction of that sentence”
“I find the sentence ludicrously disproportionate to the crime… there is simply no mention of the case for the defence. This reads like a press release for the prosecution/police…. and I say this as a senior journalist from national and international newspapers.”
These days, local newspapers struggle to cover stories in any kind of independent detail. They usually take stories put out by government departments, the police and OTHER media sources and reprint them – pretty much.
If you want more details, you have to go and look for them on that newfangled thing the young folk call “The Interweb”.
So I did.
And while the Argus readers who came out in support DO have a point about disproportion in the British justice system… there was some serious conning going on here…
How the sting was in the ‘back end’
It seems that the Spicer twins’ front end tipping service WAS above board.
It was the usual deal… you get promised tips…. you pay money to the tipster… you get the tips (they used a phone hotline)… all hunky dory-ish. I can’t see anything too wrong with that. (Depending on whether there’s a refund period of course).
But it was their back end products and services that got them – and their hapless punters – into trouble…
Once you were on the basic tipping service, you were assailed with phone calls and emails about ‘no lose’ investment opportunities.
One higher level service was called John McCracken’s Mystery Horses. Customers were asked to hand over £20K… something to do with importing horses from Australia. Whatever. These people never saw their money again.
To me that’s theft, plain and simple.
I was dying to know what hooked people into this one. So I had a look at the original Advertising Standards Authority complaint about the ad for this service.
The promotion stated: “If you decide to join me I will provide you with OVER ONE MILLION POUNDS in profit after just ONE YEAR + A full unconditional no-risk legally binding money back guarantee”.
Crikey. Talk about a BIG promise! No wonder people were tempted.
TIP: File anything like that under “Too good to be true”. And back away. Quickly.
In another similar service, a woman and her sister lost £10K after being promised they’d get 50% of their money back in 3 weeks. Ouch. That’s bad. And a LOT of money to lose like that.
Whatever your views on this sort of affair, it looks like the dung has seriously hit the fan for these guys.
A final tip from me…
While on the subject, if you see any promotions with the name ‘John McCracken’ on it, then it’s best to be wary.
He may have had nothing to do with the Spicer twins, but McCracken is a notorious tipster and always in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
In 2004 he was banned from racecourses for “failing to co-operate with an inquiry into race-fixing”.
On 8th June The Guardian reported that while he’s been banned, he still enters British racecourses… often wearing a WIG as disguise. He told the paper:
“Lots of people who’ve done far worse than I did have been getting a slap on the wrist or small bans and are back on the racecourse in a flash, but I’m banned for life”.
Personally, I love stories like these, they make life more colourful.
But when it comes to investing your money… well I don’t know… my advice is to stick with regular tipsters. People who offer a system for a straight fee…. or ongoing tips for a subscription fee… people who will let you try them out before you commit.
· NEVER give your money to someone to bet with.
· AVOID anything that guarantees a large return in a short period of time.
· BIN anything where the tipster claims they’re got the power to influence or fix races.
· BE SCEPTICAL unless you know or trust the publisher’s trial offer.
For details on the Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly in betting systems, check out the section on the website here.