This week’s top 10 stories on Mortgage Solutions – 12/05/2017

This week’s top 10 stories on Mortgage Solutions – 12/05/2017

Recognising the great and the good from the industry is always a fun event and the finalists for the British Mortgage Awards drew lots of attention this week.

One person certainly not qualifying for an award is the husband from Cumbria who forged his disabled wife’s signature to remortgage their house without her knowing.

Interest was also high in how digital mortgage processes might look and how brokers should be advising clients with maturing interest-only policies.

 

BTL portfolio rules: ‘Tell us by the summer’- what brokers want to know

 

The 2017 British Mortgage Awards finalists are…

 

Husband forged disabled wife’s signature to fraudulently remortgage home

 

Broker ‘frustrations’ behind launch of Adviser Alliance mortgage club

 

NatWest tweaks interest only, new builds and higher value loan criteria

 

Capital Home Loans delays relaunch as Tugwell and Truswell exit lender – exclusive

 

How a digitised mortgage process could look and the broker journey

 

The conundrum of maturing interest-only customers – Marketwatch

 

Deal or no deal? Noel Edmonds seeks £73m in compensation from HBOS ‘sex and bribery’ fraud

 

Help to Buy end date already hitting housebuilders

 

 

 

 

 

Deal or no deal? Noel Edmonds seeks £73m in compensation from HBOS ‘sex and bribery’ fraud

Deal or no deal? Noel Edmonds seeks £73m in compensation from HBOS ‘sex and bribery’ fraud

Edmonds asserts that HBOS and its former employee, Mark Dobson, were behind the collapse of his business Unique Group 10 years ago.

In a letter to the Lloyds chief executive, António Horta-Osório, his lawyers allege that he ‘suffered immense economic loss’ and ‘distress and inconvenience’ at the hands of its Berkshire branch.

Edmonds said: “I confirm my lawyers have sent a detailed claim letter seeking compensation from Lloyds for the losses that I suffered as a result of fraud committed against me by one of its managers.

“I am now trusting that Mr Horta-Osorio is true to his word and ensures that I am ‘fairly, swiftly and appropriately’ compensated for both the destruction of my businesses and the significant damage to my reputation. If he is not, then I will pursue my claim against Lloyds via the courts.”

Last month Lloyds Banking Group confirmed plans to provide around £100m compensation to victims of the HBOS corruption scandal as part of its customer review process. Edmonds is thought to be one of the 64 customers in the review.

The bank has already written off about £250m of fraudulent loans made in the scandal, which in February saw six people, including two former HBOS employees, being jailed for a combined 47 years and six months.

The scandal involved two former HBOS managers, a financial consultant and his associates who were convicted in January this year for corruption, fraudulent trading and money laundering at HBOS, formerly the UK’s largest mortgage lender.

Ex-senior banker David Mills, 60, and HBOS employee Lynden Scourfield, 54, mis-directed indebted companies to a fraudulent advisory service, paid themselves millions of pounds and enjoyed lavish lifestyles and incurred HBOS £250m of losses.

Another HBOS manager, Mark Dobson, the banker named by Edmonds in his case, also played a part in the crime, which saw him receive £30,000 in kickbacks from Mills. He has subsequently been jailed for four and a half years.
Scourfield, who headed up a department at HBOS based in Reading, agreed loans to struggling business clients on the basis that they use the service of Mills who ran Quayside Corporate Services, a business based in Bishopsgate, London.

The businesses were then advanced large sums of cash which they could not afford to repay, while Mills and his associates – his wife Alison, Michael Bancroft, and Tony Cartwright – received extortionate fees for consultancy services.

In some cases the consultancy were able to take over the running of the ailing firms for their own benefit. Bribes paid to Scourfield by Mills amounted to several hundreds of thousands of pounds, while the HBOS employee was also gifted lavish hospitality, expensive foreign holidays to Thailand and Barbados and parties involving prostitutes.

Many of the businesses advised by Mills and loaned money by Scourfield went into liquidation resulting in job losses, financial hardship, marital breakdowns, the loss of their homes and serious ill-health.

Regulator the FCA has since restarted its own investigation into the case after freezing the case in 2013 after Thames Valley police intervened.

A statement from the FCA read: “The FCA’s investigation is focusing on the extent and nature of the knowledge of these matters within HBOS and its communications with the Financial Services Authority after the initial discovery of the misconduct.”

Lloyds Bank said that following the conclusion of the criminal trial, it would provide ‘fair, swift and appropriate’ compensation for the victims.

Professor Russel Griggs was appointed as the Independent Customer Reviewer in consultation with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to review customer detriment.

The bank said that although the customer review was in its initial stages, to provide additional help to those impacted customers, it would:

• Provide interim payments on a case-by-case basis to assist victims in financial difficulty with day-to-day living costs;

• Cover reasonable fees for professional advice whilst in the Professor Griggs’ review to enable customers to access appropriate legal and financial advice;

• Write off customers’ remaining relevant business and personal debts currently owed to LBG, where they were victims of the criminal conduct, and not pursue them for any repayment;

It added that it had already suffered losses or provided for at least £250m of credit losses in relation to those impacted cases at HBOS Reading in previous financial periods.

 

Husband forged disabled wife’s signature to fraudulently remortgage home

Husband forged disabled wife’s signature to fraudulently remortgage home

The two offences were committed by Craig Studholme of Wigton in Cumbria in 2006 and 2008 for £22,000 and £3,000 respectively.

According to the News and Star, Studholme was given a two-year jail term suspended for two years along with a six-month 10pm to 8am curfew and 250 hours of unpaid work.

A third mortgage fraud allegation was also allowed to lie on file.

 

Cancer surgery

Studholme’s wife Alison was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer shortly after the couple married and moved into the property in 1999.

Medical complications following severe surgery left Mrs Studholme disabled and wheelchair-bound.

After this, Studholme was left in charge of the family finances, which he mismanaged and eventually ran up significant debt.

The fraud was discovered after the couple separated in 2015 when a box of mortgage correspondence and unpaid bills was found.

Judge Peter Davies at Carlisle Crown Court told Studholme he must also pay his victim £3,000 compensation while a Proceeds of Crime hearing will attempt to claw back the rest of the fraudulently obtained money.

 

Financial mis-management

The News and Star reported Judge Davies criticising Studholme’s management of the finances and children.

“It’s not a good enough excuse – and certainly not a good enough excuse for forging a signature to get a mortgage loan to benefit you to the tune of £25,000. You used the loans for a patio and a car, without her knowledge,” he said.

“This extinguished all her financial interest in the matrimonial home.

“Selfish, mean, dishonest: those three words describe accurately what you have done. Her life has changed. Now she is dependent on the state… Shame on you, Mr Studholme,” he added.

Last month Mortgage Solutions reported an ex-mortgage broker admitted forging his mother’s signature to obtain a mortgage for a flat to impress his girlfriend.

This week’s top 10 stories on Mortgage Solutions – 28/04/17

This week’s top 10 stories on Mortgage Solutions – 28/04/17

The scam was eventually discovered by the victim – the broker’s mother. And it was all to impress a girl.

The ongoing lender rate war was among other key industry stories. Yorkshire Building Society grabbed headlines by releasing the lowest ever mortgage rate, while one of the big five also made cuts. But brokers remain unconvinced that this can last for too long.

Lender technology appears to be a regular frustration for many brokers. And while it may not be spoken out loud, how to eventually exit the industry is also a key concern.

 

Ex-broker forges mum’s signature on mortgage to impress girlfriend

 

HSBC expands broker reach with two more firms – exclusive

 

Santander cuts rates and refreshes buy-to-let and resi ranges

 

Yorkshire Building Society launches lowest ever mortgage deal at 0.89%

 

Brokers: What’s your firm’s exit strategy?

 

Rate war signals competition but can only go so far, brokers warn

 

Lender technology: ‘These are problems that should’ve been resolved years ago’ – Marketwatch

 

Is credit card debt a bomb waiting to explode? – Benson Hersch

 

FPC affordability test risks ‘adverse effect’ on housing market, says CML president

 

Rogue landlords and letting agents to be named and shamed

 

Ex-broker forges mum’s signature on mortgage to impress girlfriend

Ex-broker forges mum’s signature on mortgage to impress girlfriend

Greig Thomson, 38, committed the fraud in May 2007 when he had just become a self-employed mortgage broker and adviser and was deemed too big a risk by lenders.

According to reports, Thomson used the mortgage to buy a flat in Dundee for £180,000, which he later admitted to police was done to impress a then girlfriend.

However, he was unable to maintain regular payments on it and fell into arrears.

Thomson never told his mother, Maureen, that he had used her identity to purchase the flat.

 

Repossessed

She only became aware of the fraud in 2014 when it was repossessed and sold for just £126,000.

She received a demand for the outstanding £80,000 and after questioning this, received paperwork showing her forged signature on the application.

Fearing she may have her own home repossessed, Maureen Thomson informed the police.

Hearing the case at Dundee Sherrif Court, Sherrif Alistair Brown warned Greig Thomson that he potentially faced a prison sentence for the crime.

Thomson gave up mortgage advising in 2014 and now owns digital marketing firm Outside Media Group.

Sentencing will take place on June 15.

Model and mum jailed for £1.2m London property fraud

Model and mum jailed for £1.2m London property fraud

Laylah Scarlett De Cruz (pictured), 31, who lived in Dubai, and her mother Dianne Jean Moorcroft, 62, of Blackpool, received five years and three years prison sentences respectively, for the crimes.

The pair, along with others, targeted a deceased woman’s house in Kensington, which they rented, before Moorcroft began making steps to assume the genuine owner’s identity.

Moorcroft changed her name by Deed Poll to that of the owner and travelled to Dubai where she opened bank accounts in the dead woman’s name. She then travelled back to London where she successfully applied for a loan of £1.2m against the property. The proceeds have yet to be uncovered.

When the loan was approved in October 2014, the proceeds of the fraud were transferred to the bank accounts opened by Moorcroft in Dubai. The funds were then withdrawn in cash.

An investigation was launched in October 2014 by fraud detectives from the Met’s Operation Falcon after Land Registry became suspicious. Moorcroft was arrested in February 2015 at her home in Blackpool on suspicion of fraud.

De Cruz was arrested on suspicion of fraud as she entered the UK from Dubai in May 2016.

Both were subsequently charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.

The defendants received jail sentences at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

Detective Constable Richard Kirk of the Met’s Operation Falcon said the women’s downfall was their failure to realise anyone would be able to see through their scheme.

He added: “Although the wider investigation to trace additional members of the network is ongoing, it is clear that De Cruz and Moorcroft played key roles in the execution of this crime. It is my hope that their incarceration today has seriously disrupted the activities of any additional members of the group.”

Between April 2015 and March 2016, the Met received 1,029 reports of rental fraud, to the value of nearly £2.5m.

Alasdair Lewis, director of Legal Services at HM Land Registry, said: “This case highlights the importance of taking steps to protect your property from fraud, particularly if it is tenanted or left empty.”

Property owners should ensure that Land Registry has their up-to-date contact address, especially if they are not living in their property, Lewis cautioned.

 

Beth Rudolph discusses how brokers can help prevent their clients becoming a victim of a property scam.

Man told to give back £200k after fraudulently securing mortgages

Man told to give back £200k after fraudulently securing mortgages

Alan Stanner, 39, of Audenshaw, Greater Manchester, will face 30 months in prison if he fails to pay the £218,541 back within the requested time, he was told appearing at Manchester Crown Court on Friday.

Stanner was previously sentenced to, and served, two and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of mortgage fraud and one of money laundering.

The fraudster purchased five properties across Greater Manchester and Lancashire between August 2005 and June 2008 worth a total of £742,000, despite having no legal income. Stanner obtained mortgages for £622,000, deceiving lenders by lying about his income, employment status and the source of the deposits, which amounted to just short of £120,000.

Stanner then let out the properties and used the rental income to service the mortgage repayments. He also admitted to the court of money laundering £85,000 in undeclared income from companies that had previously been shut down.

According to Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Stanner has failed to pay income tax since August 2005.

Despite failing to pay income tax, the court heard that Stanner managed to fund a lavish lifestyle of exotic holidays, designer shopping trips and meals in expensive restaurants.

Detective Constable Mark Chesters of GMP’s Financial Investigation Unit said: “Stanner is an example of a person with unexplained wealth and a lavish lifestyle. This lavish life came from criminal activity and Stanner will be stripped of his assets.

“This is one of many successful confiscation orders, which have followed a long-running investigation by the GMP Asset Attack Team.

“I hope this sends the clear message that anyone thinking of committing fraud offences will have to pay the price for their crimes.”

West Sussex legal trio stole £700,000 to pay mortgages and fund lavish lifestyle

West Sussex legal trio stole £700,000 to pay mortgages and fund lavish lifestyle

Emma Coates, 47, of no fixed abode, but formally of Selsey, was sentenced to six years after being found guilty on two counts of fraud by abuse of position. Coates’ criminal activity was spread across two separate law firms. From December 2008 and November 2011, while employed as a legal executive at CK Solicitors, she made a series of transfers from the firm’s client accounts to her own. After CK Solicitors closed in 2011, Coates went on to establish Coates & Co. She defrauded clients and stole funds when acting as an executor for local Selsey residents.

During the six-year period it emerged that Coates used client money to finance monthly mortgage payments on a series of properties she had purchased. She indulged herself with lavish purchases including a Range Rover, a £10,000 hot tub, and holiday to Barbados with friends.

Coates’ fraudulent activity in the role of executor came to light during 2014 when the investigation was passed to officers of the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit.

Simon Kenny, 60, St Leonards, who worked as a district judge and principle solicitor at CK Solicitors between January 2007 and May 2011, received six years jail time after being found guilty of two counts of fraud by abuse of his position. Kenny was convicted for transferring client money to cover the money they had drawn from the firm.

Kenny’s deceit was exposed by the tragic death of the firm’s accountant, Robert Foskett, who had become unwittingly involved in the fraud and took his own life because he could not cope with the realisation. He named Kenny in his suicide note.

A freelance legal consultant for CK Solicitors and long-standing friend of Kenny was the third member of the firm to be convicted. Stephen Hiseman, 60, of an address in the resort of Morzine in the French Alps, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years after being found guilty of two counts of fraud.

He became involved in the transfer of £60,000 of client money which was diverted to his own foreign bank account. He had earlier obtained £5,000 from another client by abusing his position and misrepresenting the outcome of a debt settlement.

Detective Constable Nikki Thiim of Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit said: “This was a complex investigation which was delayed in coming to court due to procedural issues brought about by one of the defendants. These convictions have exposed the deceit and greed of a group of individuals who have consistently denied exploiting the trust placed in them by members of the public, and the theft of almost £1m.

“The court heard how their deception not only led to victims losing thousands of pounds but that Kenny’s action had directly contributed to Mr Foskett tragically taking his own life.”

Thiim added: “The fraud caused property transactions to fail, the theft of family inheritances and the dissipation of child trust funds.”

Following sentencing, Sussex Police will undertake a financial investigation to pursue the possibility of recovering assets held by the defendants under the Proceeds of Crime Act, so that wherever possible, compensation might be returned to the victims of the offences.

The defendants were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court.

Adviser jailed for arranging fraudulent mortgage for cocaine-dealing couple

Adviser jailed for arranging fraudulent mortgage for cocaine-dealing couple

Anthony James, of Gowerton in Wales, placed the deposit for the couple, Carl and Donna Honey-Jones, using £20,000 cash in a carrier bag through the name of Donna Honey-Jones’ uncle, William Harding, Wales Online reports.

Harding, who serviced the mortgage using money funnelled to him from the Honey-Joneses, has previously been found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud and of converting criminal property.

The couple have a history of making more than £1m from dealing cocaine, for which Carl Honey-Jones is currently serving a nine-year sentence in addition to money laundering. His wife was given a 21-month jail sentence, suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

The two used the cash made from peddling cocaine to fund a lifestyle which saw them spend £40,000 on their wedding and luxury cars and holiday in Dubai, the Maldives, Florida and Mexico.

Financial adviser James was sentenced to 15 months for the fraud, while Harding was given a suspended prison sentence of 12 months and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

In the second fraud, James pleaded guilty to defrauding a couple out of £117,000 in a separate mortgage scam for which he was jailed for 45 months.

The couple, which were long-term clients of James, were approached by the adviser in 2014 regarding an investment opportunity which would require them to remortgage their property and buy an additional property to rent out.

However, upon transferring £117,000 to James’ bank account, the couple never saw the purchase transpire, with James spending the money for himself.

To keep up the act, James paid regular ‘rent’ to the couple supposedly from their tenant, but when police were alerted and a placed a restraint order on his account, £64,000 of the couple’s money had already been spent.

When he was arrested, James told the police he had been gifted the cash from the couple to develop his career.

Convicted drug dealer jailed for £400k mortgage fraud

Convicted drug dealer jailed for £400k mortgage fraud

Graham Stewart, 43, Deauville Road, Aintree, used false documents and lied about his job and salary in order to obtain mortgages for properties in Liverpool and Lancashire, the Liverpool Echo reported.

The mortgage-related crimes were committed between June 2004 and April 2007.

Detective chief inspector Dean Holden, from the specialist crime-fighting unit Titan, said: “We are pleased that a three-year investigation into the lies, deceit and ultimately fraud committed by Graham Stewart has resulted in this custodial sentence.

“Stewart’s fraud was not a victimless crime and over time ran to over £400,000, meaning Stewart led a lifestyle most of us can only dream about.”

Stewart was also convicted of benefit fraud, concealing criminal property and theft.

He purchased a BMW for £58,000 on finance, then cancelled the direct debit and sent the car overseas to Cyprus, in his brother’s name where it could not be traced.

Filing for bankruptcy in November 2010, Stewart admitted to Liverpool Crown Court he had hidden assets which could have helped to clear the debt. These included two villas in Cyprus and a Rolex watch worth around £35,000.

Stewart’s past is littered with convictions, one of which saw him convicted to seven years in jail for conspiracy to supply heroin in 1999.

He was released from prison on licence in 2002, beginning his fraudulent spree in 2004.

His wife, Kate Stewart, 34, is the former owner of Liverpool’s iconic Heritage Markets. She wrote a letter to the Judge Neil Flewitt, QC, claiming her husband was a changed man but the judge did not share her view.

“The remorse he demonstrated appeared to be for the consequences of being discovered,” the judge said.

He was cleared of two charges of assault against his wife in 2016. After making a statement about the alleged incident, she later withdrew it.

Detective chief inspector Holden said his officers would be looking at using powers under the Policing Crime Act, which allows them to seize the assets of criminals.

The money or assets seized can be used by law enforcement agencies to help apprehend more criminals, he added.