TWIN brothers who defrauded more than 70 people out of £1.6 million have been sentenced to a total of 52 months in prison.

Paul John Aspden and Peter Keith Aspden were co-directors of Independent Property Consultants Limited (IPC), which sold overseas properties to investors around North Yorkshire and the rest of the country.

The victims lost between £18,000 and £110,000 investing in second homes abroad, with some investing their life savings with the company and others remortgaging their own homes to pay.

North Yorkshire Police said the customers believed they had invested in properties at three sites on the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria, four separate developments in Bansko, Bulgaria and one development in Santa Maria in Cape Verde Islands, but the brothers used their client’s cash to repay business and personal bank overdrafts, travel, personal shopping and also transferred money to other family members.

Detective Inspector Ian Wills, said: “Excessive amounts were removed and used for purposes other than funding the build. As the timetable approached for completion, clients were told a succession of lies as to why they could not complete, including the poor quality of the build – which was not the case.

“Clients were then moved to other projects in order to buy IPC more time. They were told these alternative properties would be better and more luxurious.

“The reality was that their funds had been removed from the business and there was no prospect of them ever completing.”

The pair, aged 54, were each charged with fraudulent trading in Bulgaria and fraudulent trading in Cape Verde and sentenced at Leeds Crown Court yesterday.

Paul Aspden, of Lake Point, Marine Drive, Lytham St Annes, also offered an alternative plea under the Trade Descriptions Act and was jailed for 42 months. Peter, of Cape Verde Islands and Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, also offered a plea under the Trade Descriptions Act and was jailed for ten months.