Fake stockbroker, 26, who stole £253,000 from family and friends and carried out £750,000 VAT fraud is jailed for six years after spending stolen cash on helicopter trips, lap dancing clubs and ‘partying with pop star Rihanna’
- James Bufton, 26, posed as a successful stockbroker after failing his exams
- Conned £250,000 from relatives and £1.3m from taxpayers in a VAT fraud
- Used money to fund lavish lifestyle and rub shoulders with pop star Rihanna
- Bufton, of Newport, admitted 16 charges of fraud and two of VAT fraud
- He was jailed for six years with a proceeds of crime hearing set for next year
A financial whizzkid who claimed to have charmed pop star Rihanna when he was just 17 has been jailed for six years for serious fraud.
James Bufton, 26, lived the high life, rubbing shoulders with the stars and chartering helicopters to sporting events.
He was pictured in an embrace with singer Rihanna after a concert at the 02 Arena and claimed the singer gave him her number.
Champagne-loving Bufton was a ‘glittering success’ and spent a fortune in lap-dancing clubs ringing up bar bills of more than £1,000 a night.
Financial whizzkid James Bufton, 26, has been jailed for six years after fraudulently stealing £250,000 from relatives to fund a champagne lifestyle and rub shoulders with the likes of pop star Rihanna (pictured backstage at the O2 Arena)
But when he failed his stockbroking exams Bufton turned to crime after running up debts on his lavish lifestyle and a gambling addiction, a court was told.
He conned more than £250,000 from eight relatives, friends and business contacts and ‘tried to con taxpayers’ out of £750,000 in an elaborate VAT fraud.
Prosecutor Timothy Evans said: ‘Bufton developed a toolbox of dishonest techniques after fabricating a successful persona.
‘He forged misleading documents to con people out of their hard-earned money.
When Bufton failed his stockbroking exams Bufton turned to crime after running up debts on his lavish lifestyle and a gambling addiction, a court was told
He conned more than £250,000 from eight relatives, friends and business contacts and ‘tried to con taxpayers’ out of £750,000 in an elaborate VAT fraud. Pictured: Bufton, second from left, had a short-lived jetset lifestyle
‘It seems to have made no difference to him whether it was from family, a dying man, a grieving widow, a family friend, his girlfriend’s parents, a businessman or someone he met in a bar.
‘He took their money and spent it down the drain.’
Bufton ‘fleeced’ the pension fund of his dying uncle Horace Bufton, blowing large amounts in a lap dancing club called the Fantasy Lounge.
Bufton was caught when investors became suspicious and admitted 16 charges of fraud and two of VAT fraud between 2013 and 2017 at Newport Crown Court
After Bufton helped himself to retired lorry driver Mr Bufton’s £70,000 pension pot all that was left was £1.38.
His widow Susan told Newport Crown Court in a victim impact statement: ‘I considered James to be totally trustworthy.
‘I believed him to be a successful stockbroker and never considered he had the intention of stealing from me.
‘I have been left feeling hate towards him and have thought about taking my own life.’
Mrs Bufton, 62, said she was ‘devastated’ to hear her nephew pretending to be her husband in recorded phone calls to financial companies.
The court heard Mr Bufton was dying of a ‘particularly virulent’ cancer while he was being ripped off by his young relative.
During his ‘outrageous’ frauds Bufton appeared on a fake front page cover of the US glossy finance magazine Forbes.
When investors became suspicious Bufton lied that he had to fly to Singapore for treatment for a brain tumour.
Bufton, who lives with his parents in Newport, was jailed for four years for the investment frauds and two years for the VAT fraud
The court heard he took money off one investor who genuinely needed to pay for private healthcare for cancer treatment.
Bufton, of Newport, South Wales, admitted 16 charges of fraud and two of VAT fraud between 2013 and 2017.
The court heard he was sorry and had been threatened with violence over his debts, including having bricks thrown through his window and his car set on fire.
Anwar Nashashibi, defending said: ‘He left school with nine A* GCSEs to train as a stockbroker – his family were very proud of him.
‘But when the company that was training him folded he thought he could do it all himself.
‘He developed a taste for the high life, started gambling and ended up robbing Peter to pay Paul.’
A proceeds of crime hearing is due to be held next year in the hope of recovering some of his ill-gotten gains
Bufton, who lives with his parents in Newport, was jailed for four years for the investment frauds and two years for the VAT fraud.
Judge Daniel Williams told him: ‘You developed a lifestyle to match your glittering success.
‘The currencies in which you traded were lies, false promises and evasion.
‘You created false stock reports to persuade your investors – in reality you squandered their money.
‘You plundered your uncle’s modest pension and even after his death you continued to try to get your hands on it, defrauding your aunt of over £42,000.’
A proceeds of crime hearing is due to be held next year.
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