28th August 2011
But that could be the tip of the iceberg – many victims of these high pressure sales operations pushing shares of little or no value never report their loss. Some do not even tell their families – a number even refuse to admit to themselves that they've been conned.
Until recently, boiler room bosses generally got away with it. If the set-up was in Spain, for instance, they knew local police would leave them alone unless they targeted Spanish investors.
And using a network of phoney companies all over the world's tax havens meant that they could launder their ill-gotten gains in relative ease.
But now regulators and police forces are starting to get their act together.
While there are still scores of boiler rooms attacking UK investors, they can no longer act as if they were beyond the law.
On August 22, Tomas Wilmot, 64, who as Tom Wilmot ran fraudulent share operations in the UK during the mid 1980s, was jailed for nine years at Southwark Crown Court for boiler room fraud.
Two of his sons, Kevin and Christopher were each sentenced to five years for their part in the conspiracy.