Irish gang scammed farmers out of £1.2m
A gang of Irish men who scammed farmers out of £1.2m by promising they could double their money have been jailed.
Farmers across Devon, Cornwall, west Wales and Lancashire were targeted by the four men.
Some borrowed money from family members and friends to fund what Judge Peter Johnson described as "a shabby and mean set of offences".
The men each admitted conspiracy charges at Exeter Crown Court.
The farmers were told the money was going to be used to free impounded lorry loads of machinery or cigarettes or to fund a complicated international money smuggling operation, the court heard.
John Maughan, 56, and Denis McGinley, 57, led the scheme and were joined by Jimmy Connors, 44, and his brother Luke, 39, who ran a farm industry business and identified the victims.
Maughan, of Killyview, Enniskillen, Fermanagh, and Dennis McGinley, of Sligo Road, Enniskillen, each admitted two counts of conspiracy to defraud.
Maughan was jailed for five years and three months, while McGinley was sentenced to five years and seven months in prison.
Luke Connors, of County Wexford, admitted four counts of conspiracy to defraud and was jailed for three years.
At an earlier hearing, Jimmy Connors, of Llandyssul, admitted two counts of conspiracy and was jailed for 20 months.
Judge Johnson said: "These were a shabby and mean set of offences involving trusting, kind people which netted large sums of money."
He also set a timetable for the seizure of the men's assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.