FOUR fraudsters have been jailed for a combined 34 years after they were convicted of a £5million scam.

Keith Wharton, 60, from Tadcaster, began offering investment in land, mainly in Panama, in 2006, Leeds Crown Court heard.

The court heard Wharton promised investors the land would double in value over twelve months and could be sold.

Within three years, Keith Wharton had conned around 30 investors out of £2.4 million. 

Wharton and his son, Lee, 34, embarked on a luxury lifestyle and bought a yacht and high performance sport cars. 

They also made bespoke improvements to a Leeds apartment, which included a £35,000 sound and TV system. 

Many victims have been left in severe financial difficulty and have suffered mental health problems.  

Three years later Wharton Snr turned his attention to a retired businessman in North Yorkshire.

He conned the man into investing £1 million and the cash was sent to Wharton’s own bank account in Spain.

He attempted another project and recruited Stephen Pickard, 56, a solicitor and Simon Kippax, 52, a tax specialist.

Between early 2010 and August 2010 around a dozen investors put £1.7 million into this scheme. 

The fraud did not stop there, however, and in 2011 six investors handed over £500,000.

Keith Wharton was sentenced to 12 years in prison for fraud and obtaining money by false representation after a five month trial.

Lee Wharton was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to seven years.

Pickard was sentenced to eight years for fraud and money laundering, and Kippax, from Harrogate, was jailed for seven years for fraud and a regulatory offence.