A GANG of Irish con-artists have been jailed in the UK this week after swindling £1.2 million from farmers.
John Maughan (56) and Dennis McGinley (57) flew from Ireland to pick up cash instalments of up to £200,000 from their victims.
The pair led the scheme after Jimmy Connors (44) and his brother Luke (39) indentified potential targets through their legitimate business based in Wales.
Farmers across Devon, Cornwall, west Wales and Lancashire were targeted by the four men.
Judge Peter Johnson described them as "a shabby and mean set of offences".
The men admitted conspiracy charges at Exeter Crown Court.
The farmers were told the money was going to be used to free impounded lorry loads of machinery or cigarettes or to fund a complicated international money smuggling operation, the court heard.
Maughan and Dennis McGinley both from Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, each admitted two counts of conspiracy to defraud.
Maughan was jailed for five years and three months, while McGinley was sentenced to five years and seven months.
Luke Connors was jailed for three years andJimmy Connors for 20 months.