Matthew and Charlotte Roberts, both bankrupt, deliberately targeted high net worth and sophisticated investors, raising £7.8m with their scam companies.
The Insolvency Service, which prosecuted the couple, said investigators were now seeking to track down funds and assets but warned a significant amount of the money may not be recoverable.
The 13 companies run by the couple based in Stroud in Gloucestershire purported to be involved in two projects.
Eleven were concerned with a project to acquire and convert a former convent in Woodchester near Stroud into a hotel and music venue. The remaining two were involved in a project to acquire and develop a property in Norway to create an eco-resort.
The Insolvency Service (IS) said the Matthews raised millions from private investors who were told their investments would be fully asset backed with the companies in which they purchased shares acquiring ownership of various land and buildings at the two sites.
In fact, none of the land or buildings was found to be owned by the companies.
It added that investors were invited to buy preference shares in a number of companies with a particular purpose in defined project on the promise of annual returns from 10% and guaranteed buybacks up to 150% depending on the length of the investment term which could be between one, three or five years.
They were then told that their investment was high risk and having certified themselves as either ‘high net worth individuals’ or ‘sophisticated investors’, they would have no access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Insolvency Service chief investigator David Hill added: “I am very pleased to see that the Court has called a halt to the unscrupulous activities of these companies.
“The Insolvency Service will continue to investigate and bring to a halt the activities of companies harming or about to harm the public by operating in this way. The companies have shown no regard for the law.”