Gambler, 26, who called himself the 'Betfair King'

A gambler who allegedly conned family friends out of £620,000 through a bogus betting scheme spent thousands of pounds shopping for designer clothes at Harrods and Ralph Lauren.

Elliott Short, 26, who lived in Chelsea, central London, was said to have claimed he was able to place successful bets on races and make large sums of money using a layered betting scheme.

But the horse racing expert lost more than £1million of his own money and cash given by investors through unsuccessful gambling and lavish lifestyle, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Christopher Antoniou allegedly invested £200,000 in Short’s betting system, hoping for huge profits - but he never saw the cash again and began to become suspicious after reading an article about the scheme in a newspaper.

The story in the now-defunct News of the World, which claimed Short had made £21million from his scheme, was rubbished by Betfair - which said the figures given by Short were impossible.

Mr Antoniou often visited Short to talk over his investment and said he saw him placing bets by phone while watching races on TV and marking wins by chanting: ‘Who is the Betfair King?’

After becoming friends Mr Antoniou and Short met socially, and Short would go out to trendy clubs and bars in Chelsea and Knightsbridge, a few times each week, the court was told.

Short would ‘typically pay for everything and anyone, showing off his supposed wealth’ and ‘the bills he would run up were usually in excess of £1,000’, Michael Hick prosecuting, said.

The court also heard how Short spent thousands of pounds on designer clothes and hotels.

Bank statements show during 2009 he spent £4,549 at a Hilton hotel and £460 at Christopher Louboutin. The documents also showed a £7,015 spend at Ralph Lauren and £1,825 at Brinkley’s Wine Gallery in Chelsea.

He also allegedly splashed out on a chauffeur-driven Mercedes, jetted off on holidays to Marbella, stayed in plush hotels and frequented top clubs including exclusive Eclipse in Chelsea.

‘Some smaller sums were going to Betfair, whilst bigger sums were going to places like Harrods and the Hilton,’ Mr Hicks said. ‘The money was in fact being spent on maintaining an extravagantly lavish lifestyle.

Trial: Southwark Crown Court (pictured) heard the horse racing expert lost over £1million of his own money and cash given by investors through unsuccessful gambling and lavish lifestyle

‘What Mr Short’s bank statements do show is that this money was in fact spent on maintaining a lavish lifestyle - spending money in exclusive clubs, eating out, shipping in various luxury brand shops and going on a holiday to Marbella.’

When the article appeared in 2009, Mr Antoniou confronted Short, who alllegedly said the Betfair statement had been issued by the firm at his request as he wasn’t happy with the story and publicity.

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Mr Hick said: ‘This was another false story, made up by Mr Short to make him appear successful, and no doubt to convince his investors to keep providing him with money and to attract new investors.

‘However the story prompted Betfair to release a public statement countering the article, stating the claims made were not possible. As a consequence, the News of the World was forced to make a retraction.’

Equestrian aficionado: Christopher Antoniou had often visited Elliott Short to talk over his investment and saw him watching races on TV before chanting: 'Who is the Betfair King?' (file picture of horse race)

As a result, Betfair allegedly cancelled all of Short’s accounts with them so he could no longer trade.

Short, of Chester, Cheshire, is accused of defrauding James Crawford out of £400,000, Mr Antoniou out of £200,000 and Melinda Barrett out of £20,000 between September 2008 and August 2009.

Mr Crawford, who met Short via his mother and step-father, Rosemary and Tom King, handed over £400,000 after mistakenly believing he was trading successfully, the court heard. He was allegedly told he would receive monthly dividend payments of £70,000, but they allegedly never materialised.

Short is charged with 13 counts of fraud and one count of making or supplying an article for use in fraud. The trial is expected to last three weeks.