A VETERAN fraudster has been convicted of running an international gold scam from his West Berkshire home.
Howard Del Monte – formerly known as Nigel Goldman – used his Kintbury High Street base for his online operation called Bensons’ Emporium.
Reading Crown Court heard the 57-year-old piggy-backed his dodgy deals onto a legitimate business run by his lover, Hungerford clothing dealer Suzanne Couling.
But the net closed after a Newbury businessman, furious at being duped, embarked on a mission to bring him to justice.
During the three-day trial prosecutor Nicholas Cooper said one victim, Lee Cubit, agreed to buy a South African gold krugerrand from an eBay seller called ‘bensonsemporium1517.’
He subsequently agreed to buy more and was told to pay £1,612 into Del Monte’s Newbury bank account.
The coins never materialised.
Around the same time, former Vodafone employee Leon Shepherd also visited the online Bensons’ Emporium, which apparently had 5,000 positive reviews, and successfully bought a coin.
Deciding to buy more as an investment for his two children, he paid £9,250 for 40 Elizabeth II sovereign gold coins and two South African krugerrands.
But this time Del Monte had chosen the wrong man to con and what happened next signalled the beginning of the end for the fraudster's gold business.
For a full report of the sensational trial, plus background, grab a copy of tomorrow's Newbury Weekly News.