Kenneth Goldsmith said he trained at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris but actually learned to cook in prison, Lincoln Crown Court was told.
He persuaded entrepreneurs to set up in business with him and used the company's money to fund a lavish lifestyle.
The court heard Goldsmith used the money to pay for five-star holidays, Aston Martin cars and helicopter rides with his partner Kirsty Emmans, who has also been jailed.
Goldsmith admitted 20 counts of fraud, a charge of theft and a charge of using criminal property, totalling £120,000. Emmans admitted 11 counts of fraud and one of theft totalling £70,000 and was jailed for 18 months.
Judge Richard O'Rorke said: "The real mischief of your actions is not the amount of money, it's in the damage and in some cases the ruin that you affected on ordinary small people, on ordinary small amounts of savings, and on small companies doing their best to survive in difficult times."
By Kerstin Kühn
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