Andrew Bird and David McNeill, instructed by the CPS Central Fraud Group, secured the UK’s first convictions by a jury for land banking fraud on Tuesday. Land Banking is a process whereby land is identified, and divided (on paper) into many small plots which are then marketed to investors as being good investments. Omar Eshpari gained between £750,000 and £833,000 from the fraud and was sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment. Stefan Mitchell, who gained £366,000, was sentenced to 6 years. The defendants had set up a number of linked companies for the purpose of carrying out the fraud. They and their salesmen, often using false names, relieved investors of over £3 million by marketing small plots of land for many times their true worth, playing on the investors’ hopes that the land would be granted planning permission. In fact, the land was either unsuitable for planning permission or development, or the defendants never owned it in the first place. The court found that the defendants targeted ordinary people who were often vulnerable or elderly. After being cold-called by the defendants’ salesmen, these investors paid their money over and either received nothing or received plots which were worth far less than they were paying.