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Northern Irish mortgage fraud ring sentenced over £1.5m scam

by: Samantha Partington
  • 20/11/2014
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Northern Irish mortgage fraud ring sentenced over £1.5m scam
A fraud ring of seven people obtained £1.5m of mortgages by inflating property prices of business and residential properties in the Coleraine area of Northern Ireland.

Businessman John Gaile set up a scam with members of his family and Coleraine solicitor John Hickey. The majority of mortgages had been obtained through Holywood independent financial adviser William Larmour.

Police calculated the total profit to all seven defendants through the acquisition and sale of the properties amounted to more than £483,000 while the loss to lenders through repossessions amounted to more than £557,000.

Gaile was able to obtain larger loans on the properties because of the inflated values allowing him to contribute less of his own money.

From September 1995 until April 2008 Gaile sold the properties, sometimes to family members or to Hickey, either taking the profit gained or using it to fund the purchase of another property whose mortgage was similarly obtained by deception.

Detective Constable Sam Kinkaid, from the Police Service of Northern Ireland organised crime branch, said: “An investigation into John Gaile’s frequent acquisition of property in the north west identified his use of fraudulently obtained mortgages.

“The scam involved the use of false purchase prices which were provided to various lenders through financial adviser William Larmour and solicitor John Hickey. A number of the properties were sold amongst Gaile family members with the aim of continuing the scam and generating more profits.”

The police said Hickey, who has been struck off by the Law Society, had become part of the scam to defraud lenders and then used the system to buy properties himself. Financial adviser Larmour’s benefit was confined to the fees payable to him for processing the mortgage applications during a period in which he was part of the regulated financial sector. These fees were estimated to be approximately £5,000.

“This group was involved in a scam to make money from inflated mortgage applications. They thought they could beat the system by continuing with their criminal activity. But an extensive investigation by organised crime branch detectives picked its way through the trail of purchases and applications to uncover a criminal enterprise which was centred on the Gaile family but enabled by Hickey and Larmour,” said Kinkaid.

John Gaile, Hickey and Larmour were sentenced on 18 June 2014 at Laganside Court for the scam which involved a total of 26 property transactions. Along with co-accused Paul Gaile, Lena Gaile, Lee Paul Gaile and Kieran Gaile they pleaded guilty to a total of 76 charges including mortgage fraud and acquiring criminal property.

Matters could only now be reported because of the completion of other proceedings.

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