A CONMAN and his business partner ran a scheme promising people they could make thousands from investing in a three-man company — but left them bankrupt instead.
Michael Dean Taylor, of Cwrt Naomi, North Dock, Llanelli, was jailed for 32 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud at Swansea Crown Court.
His business partner, Joanne Marston, 31, who now lives in Nottingham, avoided prison and was given a 24-month sentence, suspended for two years.
Andrew Davies, prosecuting on behalf of Carmarthenshire Council, told the court that Marston was initially a customer of 46-year-old Taylor, who ran a company called Tenretni, set up in 2003.
He sold marketing websites to people, on the promise that they would be able to earn between £12,000 and £16,000 per month, but after buying seven websites, Marston became bankrupt
"Despite her background and knowing the difficulties it could lead to, in the early months of 2008, she became part of the company," said Mr Davies.
It was after she joined that they then came up with the idea that saw them convicted of conspiracy to defraud, which saw potential investors, including elderly people with a retirement fund, invited to South Wales to be shown the luxury lifestyle led by Dean Thomas, who leased a Porsche, two Mercedes and other sports cars.
He would take them out to dinner to convince them to become a third investor in a three-man business, claiming it would be an exclusive arrangement.
Robert Stone was promised £100,000 return for a £15,000 investment, while Carol Wildman was approached after retiring from her cleaning business.
Another investor, John Milligan, was assured he would make money from the initial websites.
But after months without making a penny, the pair convinced him to invest a further £15,000. Marston told him he would make at least £5,000 a month.
He re-mortgaged his home — a fact known by the pair — but was later declared bankrupt, losing his home and forcing his wife and young child to live in rented accommodation.
Mr Davies said £197,500 was taken in total, but £26,050 had been refunded to unhappy customers.
John Hipkin, representing Taylor, apologised on behalf of the defendant, who had turned up to court drunk before Christmas.
Ian Wright, for Marston, said his client — a mother of three — had been infatuated with Taylor, but added: "When I provided her with the victim personal statements, she described feeling sickened."
He added that her marriage had broken up since, but she had since raised money for charity, found a job and started a distance learning course.
Sentencing, Judge Huw Davies QC said Marston would also have to undertake 180 hours of unpaid work.