The Only Way Is Essex star Lewis Bloor upset “fellow fraudsters” when he left an alleged £3 million diamond scam for “some poxy show”, a court has heard.
Bloor, 31, who joined the ITV2 reality programme for three years from 2013, is alleged to have used the fake name “Thomas Harkin” in a cold-calling investment fraud.
Around 200 victims, many of whom were elderly, were allegedly conned out of more than £3 million after being convinced to buy coloured diamonds at a 600% mark up.
Southwark Crown Court heard on Wednesday Bloor played a “key role” in the running of Imperial Assets Solutions (IAS), one of two firms involved in the alleged scam, acting under the instruction of James Ward, who is not on trial.
Bloor did not work for the second company, Henderson & Forbes (H&F), set up with 29-year-old Joseph Jordan as director, to continue the fraud, prosecutor David Durose QC said.
“By the second half of 2013, his television career was beginning to take off,” Mr Durose told the jury on Wednesday.
“That meant that he was less available to be involved in defrauding people from the late summer onwards.
“That caused some unhappiness with other people who worked in the business, particularly with James Ward.”
He said Ward told Bloor in a message: “I’ve done so f***** much for u and u put some poxy show in front of this!”
“The two clearly had a falling out when Mr Bloor left,” he added.
The prosecutor said other phone messages recovered from Bloor’s MacBook show he was “involved in dishonesty”, that he was “involved in controlling sales” and viewed those working as “his boys”.
Mr Durose said the fraudsters operated from more than one “floor”, with Bloor calling himself “Lewis from the Essex floor”.
Bloor, of Buckhurst Hill, Essex, denies conspiracy to defraud between May 7 2013 and July 1 2014.
He is on trial alongside Jordan, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, George Walters, 29, from Beckenham, in Kent, Max Potter, 25, of Enfield, Middlesex, Nathan Wilson, 28, of Brentwood, Essex, and Simon Akbari, 27, from Loughton, Essex, who also deny the charge.
Both firms involved allegedly purported to be specialist brokers for people wanting to buy or sell investment-grade stones.
People were cold-called and sent glossy brochures with quotations from unconnected legitimate diamond firm De Beers and office addresses in a prestigious Canary Wharf skyscraper and Antwerp, the worldwide home of the diamond trade, the court heard.
They were sold the coloured diamonds as a genuine investment which would increase in value, it was heard.
But the stones, which were bought from a wholesaler and sold on with a mark-up of around 600%, could never have been a legitimate investment, it is alleged.
Jurors were told retired social worker Maureen Edwards lost more than £27,000 after being called by Bloor’s alias Thomas Harkin, “Richard Hall”, the name used by Ward, and a broker calling himself “Stephen Green”.
Maria Way, a retired lecturer, bought three diamonds from IAS for £31,000, “wiping her out financially,” said Mr Durose.
Retired teacher Christine Truscott shelled out a total of £122,500 after being told she would make a 22-25% profit, the jury heard.
And recently retired Maurice Wynes was persuaded to buy two more diamonds for more than £16,000 from H&F, having already handed over almost £100,000 to IAS, it was said.
The trial continues on Thursday.