Pictured: Cheriegate conman Peter Foster's new shame

Pictured: Pinned down by police on a beach, Cheriegate conman Peter Foster’s new shame over alleged million-pound scam

  • Undercover police officers arrested Foster on a beach in Queensland, Australia
  • Convicted crook helped Cherie Blair purchase two flats at a discount in 2002
  • He is alleged to have run a sports betting scam where investors lost thousands 

Serial conman Peter Foster – a central figure in the notorious Cheriegate affair – was arrested yesterday over an alleged million-pound scam.

Undercover police officers posing as joggers tackled the 57-year-old to the ground and handcuffed him as he walked his dogs on a beach in Queensland, Australia.

The convicted crook, who helped Cherie Blair purchase two flats at a discounted price in 2002, is alleged to have run a sports betting scam which saw investors, including some in the UK, lose tens of thousands.

Private investigator Ken Gamble, who tracked Foster to the town of Port Douglas, said he struggled and ‘let out a few screams’ as the handcuffs were slapped on. Detectives were last night going through Foster’s rented two-bedroom villa there and had seized computer equipment.

Policemen posing as joggers arrested Peter Foster on a beach in Queensland, Australia

A private investigator said he struggled and ‘let out a few screams’ when he saw the handcuffs

Foster is said to have claimed to use experts to place bets after setting up an Asia-based company called Sport Predictions. Police will allege the £1million invested was diverted to Foster, using the alias Bill Dawson, the bets were never placed and the money was laundered through New South Wales.

Sports Predictions is allegedly a copy of Foster’s previous multi-million-dollar con, Sports Trading Company, for which he served 12 months behind bars in Australia for trading under a false name.

Foster is notorious for his role in the 2002 Cheriegate scandal in which he helped Cherie Blair to buy two flats in Bristol for their children at a substantial discount. Foster was dating Carole Caplin, Mrs Blair’s style guru, at the time.

Mrs Blair at first denied his involvement in the deal but was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn days later after the Daily Mail published emails between them where she described him as a ‘star’.

She made a public apology saying she had been unaware of Foster’s criminal background and blaming the pressures of trying to protect her family for the ‘misunderstanding’.

Foster helped Cherie Blair secure flats at a discounted rate in 2002. Ms Blair is pictured with Carole Caplin, Ms Blair’s style guru. She was dating Foster

In his latest alleged scam, a podcast called King of Sting taped ‘Bill Dawson’ telling a would-be investor that Sports Predictions was a fool-proof money-spinner as he asked for a minimum investment of more than £35,000.

On the recording, Dawson says of his ‘expert mathematician’: ‘I always say he wouldn’t know the difference between a cricket ball and a soccer ball if it hit him on the head, but he’s a numbers man and he’s a statistics man and he’s very good at crunching the numbers.’

Mr Gamble – of IFW Global, which investigates internet fraud worldwide – tracked Foster after being approached by a businessman who believed he had been the victim of an elaborate fraud.

‘The voice of the man calling himself Bill Dawson is, in my mind, unmistakably Peter Foster,’ Mr Gamble said.

The private detective kept the fraudster under surveillance for a month before tipping off the police about his alleged betting scam and his whereabouts. They then took over the surveillance.

Carole Caplin and Peter Foster pictured in BBC documentary The Conman

Foster pictured in an undercover police car following his arrest on a beach in Queensland

Foster was spotted driving a $400,000 Bentley through the streets of the Gold Coast in March 

After being allowed to return to his villa, where he changed into a Hawaiian shirt, Foster was bundled into a police car, mumbling: ‘This wasn’t necessary.’

His dramatic early-morning arrest on Four Mile Beach came as the Mail learned that he had been negotiating the purchase of a luxury yacht. ‘He knew that his freedom was running short,’ said a source close to the investigation.

‘He is believed to have been planning an escape by sea to head for one of the island nations in the Pacific. It looks like that dream isn’t going to happen. Instead, if he’s convicted of an alleged string of conning offences he’s going to be sitting in a cell.’ Australian businessman Dennis Walker, along with his wife Jan, revealed he lost £100,000 after helping to set up Sports Predictions.

Mr Walker said he invested the couple’s life savings on the promise of becoming the firm’s chief executive and set up bank accounts all over the world, aimed at attracting unsuspecting investors and punters on the promise they could not lose. Mr Walker, who lost everything, said: ‘To be honest, it’s gut-wrenching. Sports Predictions was a company Foster wanted me to set up. We were opening accounts in Singapore, Hong Kong and Great Britain. Our money evaporated.’

Foster outside a Gold Coast court in 2012. He was arrested for the first time at the age of 20 for a fake £40,000 insurance claim over a cancelled boxing match

The career criminal has served time for fraud around the world, including in Britain, the US, Australia and the Pacific islands. He had previously duped model Samantha Fox and Sarah Ferguson into promoting the alleged weight-loss qualities of a tea.

He also sold business franchises to investors allowing them to sell slimming tablets which, just like the tea, failed to work. Many people lost their money.

In June, Foster told the Sydney Morning Herald his reputation was ‘putrid’, but that he was ‘a changed man’. He is expected to be transferred to New South Wales within days to face fraud charges

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PETER FOSTER  

Early Years

As a teenager in the late 1970s, Foster began promoting nightclubs and boxing matches on the Gold Coast. But he was declared bankrupt in the early 80s after trying to sell tickets for a Muhammad Ali fight in Australia that never came off. He was also fined $A100,000 in Britain for trying to claim insurance for a cancelled fight.

Slimming Teas

Undeterred, Foster hooked up with a number of high-profile British girlfriends who he used to promote his ‘slimming’ Bai Lin Tea. He fled Britain and fraudulently re-marketed the product as Chow Low Tea in the US where he was caught and forced to serve four months in jail. He was also jailed in the UK when he returned in 1995.

Cherie-Gate

Foster sparked two weeks of turmoil for British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002 when he became a financial adviser to Blair’s wife Cherie. He and girlfriend Carole Caplin, a confidante to Mrs Blair, helped as ‘middle men’ in the purchase of two flats in Bristol.

Fijian Follies

Chased by local police in 2006 for forging documents about his criminal history, Foster strips down to his underpants and dives from a bridge into a river but hits his head on a boat and is captured. He then goes on a hunger strike, preventing hospital staff from handing him over to police because he’s too weak. While on bail, escapes to Vanuatu on a boat.

Slim Pickings

Foster is declared bankrupt by the Federal Court in January 2018 after refusing to pay court costs relating to SensaSlim, a scam weight loss company. He was jailed in 2014 for contempt of court over SensaSlim, before which he had spent around a year in hiding in a bush property near Byron Bay..

Sports Rorts

Foster arrives six hours late to his sentencing at a Sydney court in October 2018 after being sentenced for possessing a fake Irish passport in order to get an offshore betting license for a sports trading company. His lawyer told the court his client’s delay was down to food poisoning. 

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