Mitchell Cowling showed ‘no remorse’ after scamming woman in huge fraud scheme

Earlier this year, Mitchell Cowling, son of U’s owner Robbie Cowling, admitted to fraud by false representation and making or supplying an article for the use in fraud when appearing in Chelmsford Crown Court.

The 36-year-old, of Colchester Road, Great Totham, was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years at the same court last Friday, alongside unpaid work and paying thousands in costs and compensation.

Between 2014 and 2016, Mitchell Cowling had convinced the victim – a woman then in her 40s – to invest her money in purchasing tens of thousands of pounds worth of e-cigarettes, health foods, clothing and Christmas trees.

They had originally met in 2013 but had not spoken for months when they bumped into each other at a business park in Witham in January the following year.

During their conversation on that day, the victim said she had come into some money which she was open to investing.

Cowling told her had been doing very well with several business investments and persuaded her to send him £10,000 to invest on her behalf using the stock market.

Soon after the meeting, Cowling approached the victim with other business ideas, including investing in a business, run by a friend of his, which imported goods from China and placed them in shops across the country.

This led her to give him £30,000 to buy e-cigarettes.

Cowling kept in regular contact with her, reassuring her that the business was doing really well.

A few months later, in May 2014, Cowling went back to the victim, offering her the opportunity to invest in a shipment of health foods. She transferred £27,000 to him.

This was followed by £25,000 for Christmas trees and then £50,000 for mobile phone covers in October of the same year.

There was one final investment of £40,000 for the launch of a clothing company.

The business was set up by Cowling’s friend who ran the business importing goods and Cowling said he would be passing £30,000 to him, keeping a £10,000 finder’s fee.

For the next 18 months Cowling and the victim stayed in touch and while business was always discussed, the victim never saw a penny of any profits from any of the projects or investments.

On many occasions she tried to arrange meetings with the owner of the clothing business via Cowling but her attempts were repeatedly thwarted.

In late 2015, the victim contacted a solicitor for advice about debt collection and Cowling was invited for an interview about the business investments.

Cowling claimed to be the middle-man and all money was passed to the man who ran the clothing company.

However, he agreed he did owe money and agreed to underwrite a sum of £144,000 and used an address as security.

But checks revealed that address didn’t belong to him and while a payment plan was agreed and nearly £20,000 returned between December 2015 and August 2016, the victim lost contact with Cowling and the payments stopped.

In total she had paid £182,000 into his bank account, and was still £162,000 out of pocket.

When officers examined transactions of Cowling’s account, they found he had actually been refunded the full £40,000 for the investment in the clothing company by the man who ran it after it failed.

Detectives also discovered Cowling had spent more than £148,000 on online gambling websites and nearly £6,000 on holidays.

The victim managed to locate the owner of the clothing company and met with him, only to discover they had both been lied to by Cowling.

Officers also found recordings of conversations which clearly showed Cowling had full knowledge of the investments and where the money was going.

The 36-year-old was charged with fraud by false representation and making or supplying an article for the use in fraud.

He admitted the charges at Chelmsford Crown Court on June 23.

At that hearing, Cowling’s defence asked the judge if he would avoid a custodial sentence if he repaid £142,000.

At the same court last Friday, November 10, he was sentenced to a total of two years in prison, suspended for two years.

He must carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £8,000 in costs and compensation.

Det Sgt Neil Tremain, who led the investigation, said: “This sentence is the culmination of six years of persistence to get justice for Mitchell Cowling’s victim.

“This has been a complex investigation which has required patient and painstaking work involving studying a number of financial transactions and examining phone recordings.

“Cowling was left with no option but to admit his guilt and only offered to pay back the money he owed after it became clear he was facing the possibility of time behind bars.

“The victim gave him huge amounts of money in good faith to invest in businesses with the aim of giving her family a comfortable future.

“Instead, Cowling frittered it away on gambling websites and luxury holidays.

“It is clear he had no intention of providing her any profits and had lied to her and his friend.

“He has never shown any remorse or contrition for what he has done, and only admitted his crimes when he was presented with overwhelming evidence of his guilt.”