A YORK woman who lost more than £20,000 in a property scam has hit out at the fraudsters after re-living the ordeal during their court case.
Harriet Lansdown, a self-employed acupuncturist who lives in Bishopthorpe Road, remortgaged her home to invest 25,000 Euros with Independent Property Consultants Limited (IPC), and buy a flat abroad.
Paul John Aspden and Peter Keith Aspden, co-directors of IPC, which sold overseas properties to investors around North Yorkshire and the rest of the country, have been jailed for a total of 52 months. The twin brothers had defrauded more than 70 victims around the country out of £1.6m.
Harriet, 56, said the case had brought back the whole ordeal, and she would be paying off her mortgage longer than she intended, with less savings and no pension.
She said: "Bulgaria was about to join the EC and everyone was expecting it to be similar to the situation in Spain where property prices were expected to go up. The company was offering off-plan sale of ski cabins in the mountain so we would pay for the building of the property. They had all the plans and a smart office in Scarborough.
"They had a contract they showed us with a holiday firm that meant we could rent it through them for ski packages. It all looked very good and we checked them out as much as it was possible. I knew it was a risk but they did seem like a proper registered company - which they were."
Harriet gave IPC her money in 2006, but after months of delays said "it was clear it was all falling apart".
She said: "It was delay after delay. We started to get emails saying they had changed building companies and the builders had been ripping them off. They said weren't going ahead with the building I had been offered and offered me something in a better one. I started to get really nervous and the third one they offered me they said it was much higher specification so my investment wasn't enough and they wanted more.
"I tried to get out of it at that point and said I wanted my money back as it wasn't what I signed up to. Even though Bulgaria was falling apart, they were saying 'invest in Cape Verde' instead. Obviously I wasn't going to do that. There were constant letters for more money but I didn't give them any."
Harriet added: "I feel angry at them [Aspden brothers]. To start with I just thought they had over-reached themselves, and they were genuine. They are called Peter and Paul and had literally robbed Peter to pay Paul, and got themselves into a lot of trouble, but they were criminally liable. I assumed they knew perfectly well what they were doing so I'm pretty disgusted at them. Paul used to drive around in a fancy car and that was other people's money he was spending.
"My mortgage is a lot higher because I borrowed £23,000 on top of what I already owed. It would've been going down nicely at this stage but it isn't and is going to take me a lot longer to pay it off. I'm going to have to work harder for longer to pay it all off and I'm still paying every month that is the thing so it goes on for a long time with interest. £1.6m is a phenomenal amount."