79-year-old conman used Fife estate to cheat businessmen of £400,000

A PENSIONER posed as a Scottish aristocrat to con two businessmen out of almost half a million pounds, a court has heard.

Career conman John Cameron, 79, pretended to have an ancestral home and 315 acres of land in Fife in order to get them to part with cash to invest in a fake project to build a hotel and golf course.

Cameron, whose criminal history for fraud dates back to 1955, took on the identity of the real owner of Balbuthie Farm, John Bell Cameron, to convince them of the plan. He was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to six charges of obtaining money by deception and one of making of a false representation.

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Cameron also claimed to be an ex-military man and businessman and took to wearing tweeds and driving a Daimler to fool his victims in Leeds, West Yorkshire. On one occasion he even drove to the Scottish estate with one of the businessmen and his son, along with Australian golfer Greg Norman's golf course planner.

They were shown around the land but Cameron told them they could not see the property as it was being rented by the Church of Scotland.

Cameron's 13-month deception eventually came to an end in July 2007 after he was jailed in a separate series of frauds in which he ran up thousands of pounds worth of debt in his best friend's name as he lay dying in a Leeds hospice.

Shortly before he was jailed for those offences, he told the two businessmen he was going to Canada for an extended holiday.

Mark McKone, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court that Cameron set up a company in 2002 called Securimax Ltd, which specialised in secure parking for motorcycles.

He was given a 25,000 overdraft limit by HSBC and tried to get it extended by pretending to own the property and land in Scotland.

But he was unable to get a certificate to secure the money so instead turned his attention to one of the businessmen, to whom he was first introduced through his financial adviser.

The victim, who had sold his building company after 45 years and was looking to make investments, was initially persuaded to invest in Securimax and another of Cameron's firms, called CP Biofuels.

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He then told him about the land and property in Scotland in a bid to get more cash, offering a half share in the golf club if he invested 300,000. Forged documents were also drawn up to convince him that the plan was genuine.Cameron, of Leeds, was introduced to the second businessman, who was persuaded to part with 100,000 after being told the cash would be returned with 12.5 per cent interest.

Paul Cabin, mitigating, described Cameron as a "Walter Mitty" character, saying the initial investments secured for the Securimax and biofuels company were done legally.

He had reverted to his old ways in order to secure more funding and, believing he was a "big cheese", thought his plans would work.

Mr Cabin said it was not Cameron's plan to strip his victims of cash or do a "midnight flit" and he genuinely believed they would make money.

Mr Cabin said there was a reasonable prospect of the two men getting their money back.

Jailing him, Judge Penelope Belcher said she agreed with a report which described Cameron as "entirely selfish, self seeking and amoral".