Dawn raids at student homes in Lancashire as part of £150 million fraud investigation
Dawn raids were carried out in Lancashire today as part of a £150 million fraud investigation into student accommodation investments.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it is investigating the Alpha and Green Park group of companies for suspected fraud in relation to their portfolio of student accommodation and holiday park developments.
The SFO suspects the Alpha-branded companies of fraudulently misleading investors into purchasing leaseholds for student accommodation in Lancashire, as well as Leicestershire, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire.
The SFO has not said whereabouts in Lancashire the raids were carried out, but the agency has been approached for details.
Today (Wednesday, September 29), following a six month covert investigation into the Alpha and Green Park businesses, the SFO carried out a series of coordinated raids, interviews and mandatory requests for evidence across the country.
Working with Cleveland Police, the SFO carried out formal searches on multiple properties, arresting and interviewing one suspect.
At the same time, the SFO also issued several Section 2 notices, which force companies to provide relevant information.
The Green Park-branded companies are suspected to be part of a similar scheme to sell leaseholds for holiday accommodation in Devon.
Raids in Lancashire linked to £150 million investment scheme
Alpha and Green Park branded companies sold investments into leasehold units between 2014 and 2019, promising investors 8-10% returns on their investment over the first 10 years.
Over 1,500 investors from around 50 different countries invested an estimated £150 million into the leasehold schemes on the back of these guaranteed returns, but all stopped receiving these in 2018.
Meanwhile, the directors of the companies are thought to have made around £20 million from their schemes.
Commenting on the case, Mick Gallagher, Chief Investigator, Serious Fraud Office, said: "Thousands of ordinary people lose their pensions or life savings on risky schemes, while those at the top line their own pockets and enjoy a lavish lifestyle.
"The Serious Fraud Office is committed to delivering justice for victims of fraud and corruption. We invite anyone who believes they have a connection with our investigation to come forward."
Investigators will contact UK-based investors and ask them to fill out a questionnaire by November 30, 2021.
The information provided will help the SFO to identify and pursue new information and to continue progressing the investigation as quickly as possible.