A BUSINESSMAN at the centre of a £3.5m investment scam is behind bars for what a judge has branded “a bare-faced fraud”.
David Reid conned huge amounts of cash out of customers at the Washington Mortgage Centre, based in the Galleries, many of whom considered him a close friend.
One widow, who did not wish to be named, said the 49-year-old conman read a eulogy at her husband’s funeral, knowing his cruel fraud was about to leave her with nothing.
The great-grandmother said Reid, who was friends with her late husband before he died of cancer, helped her sort out official affairs after the funeral.
It was in January last year when the woman tried to access her cash she realised she had been duped.
The woman, who was just one of around 30 people in court watching conman Reid admit his guilt, said: “We thought he was such a good friend of the family.
“He gave the eulogy in the church, standing in front of the coffin.
“He stood at the front of the church and gave this magnificent spiel about my husband being such a good friend.
“To me that now has just made a mockery of the whole thing.
“He was a Jekyll and Hyde, he was totally believable. I think that’s why it has hit me so hard.”
The woman said she lost her husband’s entire pension fund as well as other cash she deposited with Reid in the belief it would be invested.
Another investor described Reid as a “very clever and very affable” gentleman, who wore Saville Row suits and would impress investors with £10,000 parties at his home, where fairground rides and clay pigeon shooting would be available for guests to enjoy.
Reid yesterday admitted 22 charges of obtaining a money transfer by deception and one of participating in fraudulent business.
The 23 charges span a period of more than 10 years, ending in January last year when the business closed.
The offences he pleaded to add up to a total of £1.6m but detectives say the charges are specimens and that the true extent of the scam is worth £3.5m and involves more than 50 victims.
Jamie Adams, defending, had applied for Reid’s bail to be renewed to allow him to put his affairs in order before the sentencing hearing next month.
But Judge Guy Whitburn QC said: “This is an appalling fraud on people who trusted him in an area which he was extremely well-known.
“Others recommended him to deal with their financial affairs.
“This is a bare-faced fraud.”
The judge said Reid would be remanded in custody until the next hearing and warned him: “It is inevitable, in a serious a fraud as this, that you will be punished by a substantial period of imprisonment.
“My view is that should start now.”
Reid, of St John’s Mews, Burnhope, County Durham, will learn his fate on March 17.