Elizabeth Coppolaro, of High Street, Warboys, Cambridgeshire, took money from 14 victims, many she had befriended, and led them to believe she was placing their savings into investment schemes and building projects. She stood trial in Peterborough Crown Court.
The Hunts Post reported that some of Coppolaro’s victims were elderly and thought they were investing their life savings with an adviser they trusted. One victim was a widower who had become close friends with the defendant who then scammed £115,000 from him.
Coppolaro, a grandmother, ran into difficulty in 2006 when she gave up her job as a financial adviser and was affected by the financial crash and declining health of the Spanish property market, on which she had pinned her hopes of making a living.
Her crimes were brought to light when a 68-year-old woman became concerned about her investment. In 2014, the victim had written a cheque to what to turned out to be a fictitious company. She discovered the fraud in 2016 when she contacted her bank and found out that the name on the cheque had been changed to Coppolaro’s, and reported the matter to the police.
Speaking in mitigation for the defendant James Earle said she had begun to run into financial difficulty as she could not remortgage her homes. He said her debts were spiralling out of control and it was her intention to repay the money she had taken from her investors. “It simply slipped out of control and she had to continue the ponzi scheme to keep one step ahead of debts,” he said.
Judge Sean Enright said: “The victims of this fraud were people who were known to you, in fact, friends in many instances, whose trust was placed in you for which you betrayed for your own financial purposes.”
Coppolaro received three years and nine months in jail, after admitting 19 acts of fraud over a period of nine years.