A fantasist conned showjumpers John and Laura Renwick and a number of their sponsors into believing he was multi-millionaire who wanted to invest in British horsesport.
George Schouten, 36, of Nine Mile Ride, Finchampstead, Berkshire, pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud on 29 June at Reading Crown Court. During 2008 George Schouten's Team IBM was a regular on the show circuit, with Laura as its rider and John as team trainer, and saddlecloths and team kit supplied by Essex-based Ride Out Saddlery.
The conman also ordered £62,000 of horse therapy equipment from Zamar UK.
Patrick Riley of Zamar told H&H: "I was introduced to him at Wales and West two years ago. He said he was the son of the owner of IBM and was setting up a showjumping team. John was flying to Spain to look at £1m horses for him and Schuoten asked me to take some equipment down to his yard to try out on his horses. It all looked very legitimate."
But Dutch-born Schouten's luxury cars and large home in Berkshire were all hired to make the con look more believable, the court was told. In reality he was working as a groom and had a previous conviction for fraud.
Two further charges relating to a theft and fraud involving John Renwick were left on file after Schouten paid the couple an undisclosed sum. Schouten will be sentenced later this month.