A FORMER Rochford man has been arrested by police probing a £50million global fraud.
Sam Sharpley, 31, who went to King Edmund School, Rochford, was arrested by armed police in Barcelona at the end of February as part of one of the world’s “biggestever operations” into bogus investment schemes, known as boiler room frauds.
Sharpley, who splits his time between Southend and Spain, is one of 110 people arrested in raids across Spain, the UK, USA and Serbia.
At least £50million has been taken by the syndicate from about 850 investors in the UK, mainly pensioners, according to investigators.
Steve Head, a Commander with the City of London Police, said: “It is our most important investigation ever, targeting people we believe are at the top of an organised crime network that has been facilitating boiler rooms across Europe and which is suspected of being responsible for millions of pounds of investment fraud.
“The arrests made across four countries highlight how law enforcement can work globally in the pursuit of suspected criminals who seek shelter in foreign lands so they can target innocent people with investment scams that wreak financial destruction.”
Sharpley and another man, also believed to be from south Essex, were pulled from a black vehicle after armed police smashed its windows in a busy street.
Video footage of the arrests showed a black holster containing what appeared to be a pistol on the front seat.
A black Aston Martin was also seized from Sharpley’s Barcelona home.
City of London Police released a picture of the seizure of the car and also a photograph, taken by Sharpley, showing designer watches wrapped around expensive Christian Louboutin shoes.
Police appeal: Same picture on police website
Cash totalling around £500,000 was seized during the raids.
Boiler Rooms are small offices crammed with scores of salesmen who cold call people and use highpressure sales to convince them to part with savings for non-existent shares or investments on the promise of massive interest returns.
One victim is reported to have killed himself when he realised his money was gone.
News of the raids has featured on American network CNN, but the Echo is the first media outlet to reveal the identity of one of the key suspects.
Detectives have branded those responsible for the fraud as real-life “wolves of Wall Street”.
Sam Sharpley's Facebook page is a homage to a playboy lifestyle.
Drive time: Sharpley in car
Photographs of him in designer clothes, shoes and accessories, adorn the gallery.
The pictures include one described since the raids by a friend as “a famous pic now”.
It shows a pair of feet, understood to be Sharpley’s, with two designer watches wrapped around each of the distinctive Christian Louboutin shoes.
Other pictures include Sharpley posing with a lion cub, selfies of him trying on various designer outfits and relaxing in a large jaccuzi.
There are also a number of other Christian Louboutin shoes, his pet dogs and photos and videos of the Aston Martin that were seized.
Companies House records show Sharpley has been involved with two UK investment firms.
He set up Profit Hunter Commodities in September 2011, but it was struck off last May without filing any accounts.
In December 2012, he set up Profit Tracker Commodities, which is still trading but has yet to file any papers.