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The image of the culprit of property fraud.

A model £1.2m property fraud

Cases

April 12, 2024

 

Have you ever thought about starting a family business?

 

Laylah Scarlett De Cruz (31) a stable owner and model based in Dubai, and her mother, Dianne Jean Moorcroft (62) of Warley Road, Blackpool, have certainly tried the wrong route.

 

Indeed, they have been sentenced to prison following their involvement in a shockingly sophisticated property fraud scheme - worth over £1 million.

 

After the trial, both were found guilty of conspiracy to commit title fraud. De Cruz received a five-year jail term, while Moorcroft was sentenced to three years in prison for her role in the crime.

 

But how did we get to this conclusion and how did the plot unfold?

  

 

 

The Plot: a House to Steal, a Deceased to Revive 

 

The fraudulent scheming began in 2014, when the pair collaborated with accomplices to unlawfully rent a four-bedroom property in Eagle Place, Kensington, using forged documents.

 

Moorcroft took further steps by legally changing her name to that of a deceased landlady - Margaret Gwenllian Richards - who was the genuine owner of the property.

 

 

“The fraud was as simple as it was audacious. Dianne Moorcroft changed her name by deed poll in summer 2014 solely for the purpose of participating in this fraud”.

 

 

Within a short time, a British passport and a Dubai residence permit were obtained in Mrs Richards' name, in order to obtain a lease for the property and then arrange its sale before anyone could spot the scam - how did they get they hands on all the necessary personal information? Maybe in one of these ways.

 

Using her new identity, Ms Moorcroft travelled to Dubai and established bank accounts in the name of the deceased owner. 

Upon returning to London, mother and daughter met with a property lawyer Tim Cope. Ms Moorcroft managed to persuade him she was the original property owner – despite being more than 20 years younger.

 

Quite shockingly, Mr Cope failed to notice that the image on the passport didn't match at all that on the resident's permit, and neither of the images matched those of the woman sitting in front of him.

 

From then on, everything became simpler. Fraudsters quickly arranged for the sale of the property: a £1.2m deal through bridging loan company Fincorp was negotiated. 

The money from the proceeding was then immediately transferred to a Dubai-based bank account - out of reach for British authorities – before the Land Registry was able to perform any substantial initiative on the suspicious transaction.

 

While the illicit earnings were later withdrawn in cash – never to be recovered - detectives launched an investigation later that month, after the Land Registry reported suspicious activity around the Kensington property. 

"As these women conducted this devious fraud, it is clear that it didn't occur to them that official agencies would be able to see through their scheme and this was their undoing”

Following a long and laborious investigation, Moorcroft was arrested in February 2015 at her home. De Cruz, on the other hand, who initially managed to get out of the UK, was eventually arrested on her way back to the country from Dubai. 

 

 

Safeguarding British Homes

 

This elaborate scheme, as described by Scotland Yard, involved the cynical exploitation of a deceased landlady's identity and property for financial gain.

Today, it represents a rather common type of property fraud involving identity impersonation.

 

Despite the fraudsters in question being eventually charged and arrested for their crimes, the frequent occurrence of this type of fraud - coupled with the undisputed ease with which the fraud was successfully perpetrated - is a painful reminder: 

The risk of becoming a victim of title fraud is always around the corner for property owners and unprepared buyers.

 

The growing need for first-class, continuous protection for private property is at the core of Title Guardian's business.

Upon subscribing to the platform, homeowners and landlords can automatically monitor their properties without efforts, relying on cutting-edge digital tools and instant notification systems, able to timely notify any and all suspicious activities.

 

For a small price, fraudsters can be stopped in their tracks, preventing title fraud before it can deal any damage to the financial well-being of the rightful property owners.

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