A “RUTHLESS” fraudster whose life of crime bankrolled a doomed quest for Bollywood stardom has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.
Dixit Shah, 49, of High Mead, Harrow, masterminded a string of frauds which saw banks and businesses across Europe and Asia conned out of more than £15 millon.
The would-be movie mogul ploughed the stolen cash into a succession of failed film projects in India's tinsel town, Mumbai.
Shah spent years on the run after his first major fraud was exposed in 1999, living in the lap of luxury in India and the UK.
He was found with chequebooks in 70 different names at a gym in Harrow earlier this year and arrested for his latest scam, a £2.8m mortgage fraud.
Detective Superintendent Bob Wishart, from City of London Police, said: “Over the past ten years, Shah has left a trail of destruction stretching from here to India, with pension fund holders, high street banks, solicitors and foreign students all suffering at his hands.
“Unfortunately for him, his criminal successes were not mirrored by his forays into the world of Bollywood, where his delusion led him to lose millions.
“By bringing Shah to justice we have curtailed his career in films and, much more importantly, removed a ruthless and calculated fraudster from the streets whose criminal gang struck fear into people living in the UK and India.”
His first known offending dates back to 1999, when as manager the manager of the Brandon Group of solicitors firms he emptied the pension funds, pocketing £13m in the process.
Once safely ensconced in India, Shah set out to live his Bollywood dreams, blowing all the stolen cash on a series of film productions and an extravagant lifestyle.
At the same time, Shah boosted his income by running credit card frauds in India, Pakistan and Dubai and set up a new scam targeting students wanting to study in the UK.
He told his victims he could arrange employment for them in Britain if they paid him an advance fee but simply pocketed the money, leaving them jobless when they arrived here.
He later used their identities to make fraudulent mortgage applications when he returned to London via Ireland in 2006 under a false name.
Shah was arrested at Dublin Airport en route to Britain after he was caught in possession of false passports and credit cards but jumped bail and successfully ran the mortgage con for another three years.
Shah was initially granted legal aid at taxpayers' expense but fired four different sets of lawyers and eventually it was stripped from him by the judge.
He then hired another top silk, this time paying out of his own pocket, and was jailed at Southwark Crown Court.
Speaking about the saga in July, Judge Peter Testar said: “It seems to me that his conduct in June was manipulative and it continues to be so.
“I warned him then that he was on his own if he fell out with another team of lawyers.
“He is an intelligent man and a former solicitor, and he has brought this situation on himself.
“It would be a scandalous waste of money if I granted him further legal aid.”