Scammer convicted for trying to sell London Ritz

Got a few extra bucks to invest? Well, be wary of truck drivers selling hotels. Of course, if I need to tell you this, you should stop dining on paste for lunch.

Not only is the hospitality industry going to be under pressure for the rest of the year, which makes such an investment difficult, but there’s always the chance that the deal isn’t real. This happened in London, where Anthony Lee hit up some of the market’s top real estate pros for cash to buy the London Ritz.

A jury just convicted Lee, an unemployed truck driver, of trying to move the Ritz for a mere $380 million – a deal, when you think about it – and claiming to represent Frederick and David Barclay, the off-the-radar billionaire brothers who own the property.

Before getting busted, Lee’s efforts nabbed him $1.5 million, a down payment from property broker Terence Collins. This was far better than borrowing scratch from friends and family to pay the rent, which had been a problem for Lee.

So, why did Collins fall for it? Hell, he had a shot at one of the top hotels in the city at a crazy price. He rolled the dice with a million and a half on the table … and the wrong number came up.

[photo by takomabibelot via Flickr]