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Model and mum jailed for £1.2m London property fraud

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  • 20/03/2017
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Model and mum jailed for £1.2m London property fraud
A model and her mother have been jailed after being found guilty of a £1m property fraud involving the theft of a deceased woman’s identity to take out a loan on her Kensington property.

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 The funds were then withdrawn in cash.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.

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