A "CALLOUS" fraudster has been sentenced to four years in prison after admitting to defrauding six people out of more than £800,000 as part of a series of investment frauds.

Matthew James Burgess, aged 32, of White Hill, Puddletown, appeared before Bournemouth Crown Court to be sentenced yesterday after previously admitting six counts of fraud and one count of performing a regulated activity when not authorised.

The court heard how he dishonestly claimed he would invest money in stocks - namely FX, indices and commodities markets - to the value of £801,249 between March 1, 2016 and April 30, 2021.

His six victims lost £226,249, £65,000, £160,000, £100,000, £50,000 and £200,000 respectively.

One of the victims, a mum-of- two, had invested in order to try and get a better life for her children, one of whom has a brain tumour.

Burgess described himself as a Forex trader and began trading with money which he was given by his then-girlfriend's father Malcolm Howarth through a bank transfer of £150,000.

The court heard Burgess created falsified graphs and statements which showed that investments were growing - in some cases 6% in a single month.

Burgess admitted to Mr Howarth that he had lost his £150,000 investment in May 2017 but said he would be able to get it back. Mr Howarth continued to invest, eventually losing £226,249 to the investment.

Mr Howarth then encouraged five other people to invest money with Burgess, all of whom lost large sums of money.

Judge Jonathan Fuller KC said that Burgess "pressed others to invest through the manipulation of Malcolm Howarth".

In Mr Howarth’s victim statement, read out by Jane Osborne for the prosecution, he said he “felt deceived” and that the actions of Matthew Burgess had “irreconcilably damaged” his relationships with the other investors, who were all his friends or relatives.

Ms Osborne said the victim who was a mum-of-two had been "initially reluctant" to invest with Burgess and was later pressed to invest more money.

She read out the victim's statement to the court.

The victim said she had a 12-year-old son with a brain tumour and had spent £125,000 on therapy and carers.

She said her role with her son was 24/7 as her son was having seizures day and night.

The money was also for surgery in the future for her son.

The victim invested £160,000 with Burgess in 2018 and by 2020 she was being shown false graphs and statements which showed her investment was now worth £325,000.

She contacted Burgess, wanting to withdraw her investment, at which point he went "to ground" and could not be reached by the victim.

The victim said the damage the loss of money had “blown her trust in people”.

She said: “He was lying every week to me, knowing the devastating effect it would have on me and my family.

“When I heard it was fraudulent, I felt constantly sick.

“How could anyone be so cruel, given all I was dealing with and then encouraged to invest more money.

“It has ruined the life I would have given my children."

Judge Fuller, in his sentencing remarks, said Burgess was “aware of her fragile state and rather callously pressed her for further investment”.

Benjamin Newton, for Burgess, said his client had severe mental health issues including mood changes, bipolar and traits of PTSD and mixed personality disorder.

Judge Fuller said the nature of bipolar meant it was “implausible” that it would impair the defendant's decisions over five years of consistent fraudulent activity.

The judge noted that Burgess had no previous convictions, expressed remorse for his actions and had engaged with mental health services.

His sentence was reduced in view of his mental vulnerabilities. 

Burgess was sentenced to 30 months on the first count of fraud, four years on the other five counts of fraud and nine months for performing a regulated activity when not authorised, all of which will run concurrently.