A businessman who swindled three girlfriends and a work colleague out of thousands of pounds has been stripped of his assets and left penniless under the Proceeds to Crime Act.

Jiro Wilson founded one of the first independent water companies in Britain and used it as a front to swindle £46,000 from the four women and £283,000 from the taxpayer.

The women will now receive almost 80 per cent of the money they lost, although the taxpayer will remain out of pocket because none of money he stole in a VAT swindle will be recovered.

Wilson, aged 53, who lived at Clyst St George, near Topsham when he carried out the frauds, but is now of no fixed address, Exmouth, was jailed for six years at Exeter Crown Court in June.

An investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act failed to identify any other assets beyond the £37,230.09 which had already been frozen in his bank accounts.

Judge David Evans, who dealt with the original case, declared that Wilson had led a criminal lifestyle and benefitted from crime to the total amount of £373,939.09. He ordered the forfeiture of the recoverable amount of £37,230.09.

He ordered that the money be paid to the four victims in proportion to the amount they lost. A former girlfriend who was conned into lending him almost £20,000 which she had just inherited from her father will receive just under £16,000.

The other three will receive lesser amounts ranging from £4,999 to £1,082. They will also receive a £500 Sheriff’s Award which was made by the Judge back in June but which had not yet been paid.

The awards were made in recognition of their contribution to bringing Wilson to justice after Action Fraud and the Crown Prosecution Service initially refused to pursue their cases.

Wilson was not present at the Proceeds of Crime Act hearing because he is serving his sentence at Guys Marsh prison in Dorset and a video ink was not available. Mr Warren Robinson, who represented him, said he had consented to the order.

At the sentencing hearing in June, the court heard how Wilson used his relationships with the women to persuade them to invest in his newly-founded Tor Water business, telling them they would be repaid many times over if it proved successful.

He did not invest any of their cash in the company and they later discovered he had spent some of their money on hiring escorts or going to swingers’ parties. He spent the rest on a luxury lifestyle with frequent visits to restaurants.

He gave the victims the impression that he was a successful businessman and that Tor Water was a thriving company even though he had as £4 left in his bank account when he borrowed cash from one of them.

At one stage he was living with one victim while being unfaithful with two of the others and lying to them all about being in love with them.

He had previously owned a flat in Exmouth and told the victims he would repay them when he sold it but they later discovered he had already borrowed so much money on it that he was in negative equity. It was eventually repossessed.

The business was granted a licence by Ofwat in 2018 but closed down by them in February 2020 because it had run up £500,000 debts to South West Water, which supplied it on a wholesale basis.

Tor Water had already been closed down by Ofwat when Wilson obtained a £50,000 government Covid bounceback loan. He also sent in 27 bogus VAT returns until being arrested last summer.

Passing sentence in June, the judge told him: “For much of the period between 2015 and 2022 you lived as a dishonest parasite, maintaining a lifestyle with other people’s money, which you obtained by emotional blackmail.

“You promised the women the money would be used for your so-called company Tor Water and caused each one very considerable distress and damaged each of their lives. You seem to have spent all the money you took on yourself.

“I have no doubt that you knew at every step of the way you were acting deliberately and dishonestly. The business was never properly grounded in financial reality and underlying it all was your hope of getting rich quick.”

Wilson, previously of Pytte House, Clyst St George, admitted six counts of defrauding the women, one of making a fraudulent claim for a £50,000 Covid bounceback loan and one of defrauding the HMRC out of £283,000 in false VAT refunds.