A STRING of false promises were offered by a trio behind an East Lancashire property scam with a turnover of more than £1million.

Investors were told that former mental health patients and prison inmates were ready-made tenants for more than 21 properties, which were going to be refurbished, Manchester Crown Court was told.

But victims of the con were often left with empty homes which were plagued by burglars and vandals, the court heard.

Mark Lenton Jopson, 51, from Burnley, who ran a financial services company in Clayton-le-Moors, was the money man for the operation, run by former estate agent and undischarged bankrupt Raymond Abramson, 69.

Investors were told that the properties, all in Burnley and Pendle, would qualify for several regeneration grants.

One victim, Christopher Little, said he paid £58,000 for a property in Harvey Street in Nelson.

But despite promises of refurbishments and guaranteed tenants, months later he was told by builders he would need to pay £16,500 to bring the house up to basic standards.

Investigations by police and raids on Abramson's home showed that £1,068,000 had been deposited in a host of bank accounts held by Jopson.

None of the trio had any previous criminal convictions, the court heard, and expressed remorse for their involvement in the scam.

Jeffrey Samuel QC, defending Abramson, said the figure represented the 'turnover' generated by the purchases and sales of the properties and did not reflect the profits made by the trio.

Abramson, who was given a character reference by Bury North MP Ivan Lewis, was in poor health and was currently being treated for cancer.

Rachel Smith, for Jopson, said: “This offence is utterly out of character.”

Benjamin Lawrence, defending Edwards, said his client had learning difficulties and was highly suggestible.

Jopson, of Quarry Street, Padiham, Abramson, of Hampstead Drive, Whitefield, and Edwards, 43, of Queens Drive, Prestwich, has each admitted conspiracy to defraud between 2005 and 2008.

Judge Clement Goldstone QC will sentence the trio today.