Anthony Lee, a penniless truck driver from Yorkshire, almost got away with selling the landmark Ritz hotel in London for £250 million.
The 5-star hotel is actually worth a lot more and is owned by the Barclay twins, who have never heard of Anthony Lee. The conman even gave his con a name. Here’s how ’Project Notting Hill’ works:-
Lee first contacted Karen Maguire of Property-Source.com, and claimed to be a close friend to the Barclay twins. He said that the Barclays were selling him the Ritz Hotel in London’s Piccadilly district for £200m, and he in turn wanted to sell it for £250m.
Ms Maguire then lined up buyers for the property. The Ritz was to be bought from the Barclays by Lee for £200m, and sold to Terence Collins, a London-based property developer, for £250m. Collins then found Marcel Boekhoorn, a property magnate, who agreed to buy the Ritz from Collins.
Just to clarify – The Ritz wasn’t up for sale, and the Barclay twins had no idea their hotel was changing hands among various parties in London. Anyway, with the whole chain in place, Lee asked for a £1m non-refundable deposit, which was paid into his bank account.
After he got the £1m, Lee backed out of the deal, claiming to have found a buyer with a better offer. The matter ended up in court, and the whole con spilled out into the open. The judge gave Anthony Lee 5 years for the “elaborate and outrageous scam.”