Dec 7 2011 by Stephen Robertson, Stirling Observer Wednesday
A COLD-HEARTED fraudster who conned a grandmother out of her £150,000 life savings frittered away huge chunks of it in casinos.
Stirling Sheriff Court heard on Monday how Ryan Burnside (35) told lie after lie to Margaret Gallivan to fund his gambling habit.
Burnside had previously worked as a senior financial advisor for investment firm Albannach back in 2008. Around this time, he was allocated to provide advice to Mrs Gallivan – now aged 62 – who stays in Bridge of Allan.
But Burnside was soon after dismissed from the company for “financial irregularities”.
This affected his registration with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) which meant that he couldn’t set himself up as a financial or private investment advisor.
This didn’t deter Burnside, however, and on being asked by the unsuspecting Mrs Gallivan to continue as her financial advisor, he first falsely claimed that he only had to wait three months for matters relating to his registration to be resolved.
In late 2008 he then lied that these registration issues had been sorted and this started off a chain of deceit that would go on until April 2010, with Burnside helping himself to the woman’s savings.
During this time, Burnside took possession of documentation from Mrs Gallivan relating to her investments.
Thereafter, sums of money were transferred directly into Burnside’s bank account, the fraudster claiming that it was to invest in a Lithuanian bank.
He later even brazenly told her that some of her investments were under-performing to get her to part with more money.
Fiscal depute Fiona Caldwell said: “The complainer believed the accused when he said that they were not performing well.
“She closed a number of accounts and money was transferred to the accused’s bank account.
“The reason that he gave was that the investments were going overseas and it would be more tax effective.”
In truth, though, Burnside, whom the court heard had “a gambling problem”, was blowing the money in casinos.
He also told yet more lies about his personal life, including inventing a fictitious family, claiming to be a property developer with land and that he was also the owner of several “high value vehicles” – all of which turned out to be false.
But Burnside’s scam then started to unravel and further inquiries by Mrs Gallivan’s son discovered that he was no longer registered with the FSA.
Burnside later sealed his own fate by claiming to the woman and her son at a meeting set up that he was still registered when he clearly wasn’t.
Police were called in and further investigations uncovered the full extent of Burnside’s shocking deception.
The fiscal depute added: “He said that he spent too much money in casinos and had a gambling problem.”
Referring to how the matter had affected Mrs Gallivan, the fiscal depute said: “The complainer expected to be comfortably off in her retirement.
“This is not the case. He has effectively deprived her of her life savings and she is unlikely to get the money back.”
Burnside pleaded guilty to pretending that he was an independent financial advisor and obtaining £150,000 by fraud. The offence took place between November 12, 2008 and April 20, 2010.
Sheriff William Gilchrist deferred sentence for reports until January 11.
Burnside, of Uphall Station, West Lothian, had his bail continued.
Outside court Mrs Gallivan said: “I would have retired by now if it weren’t for what he’s done to me.
“He used me as a cash machine.
“I feel quite foolish now that I fell for it all. He told me lie after lie. He has no wife, no expensive house, no expensive cars and no children.
“He’s just been so manipulative.”
She also hit out at the system which means that she cannot claim any of the lost money back.
She said: “I tried looking into criminal injury claims but to no luck.
“Even if he comes into money later in life, he is viewed as already serving his punishment for whatever he’s sentenced to. It’s ridiculous that it works out like that.
“I just want to move on. I’m not going to let him ruin my life.”
Burnside himself left court without commenting.
The Financial Services Authority sent out an alert on August 4 last year warning investors not to deal with Burnside.