Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BIZARRE PLOT TO STEAL BANKER'S HOME; CONWOMAN WHO COULDN'T SPEAK ENGLISH POSED AS OWNER'S WIFE TO TRICK ESTATE AGENT'We've Been Burgled Three Times, but Trying to Steal Our Whole House Is a First'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BIZARRE PLOT TO STEAL BANKER'S HOME; CONWOMAN WHO COULDN'T SPEAK ENGLISH POSED AS OWNER'S WIFE TO TRICK ESTATE AGENT'We've Been Burgled Three Times, but Trying to Steal Our Whole House Is a First'

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Morgan

A FRAUD gang came close to stealing a PS1 million Hyde Park townhouse from under the nose of its banker owner in an "audacious and sophisticated" scam.

The fraudsters stole the identity of the owner's wife in an extraordinary bid to arrange the sale of the three-bedroom mews property without her knowledge. Polish conwoman Tamara Pacskowska used false ID to pose as Hugo Bagnall-Oakeley's wife Georgina, 76, at meetings with estate agents and solicitors in November last year.

The 56-year-old, from Croydon, could not speak English and took her daughter-in-law Monika Brzezinska, 34, along with her as a translator, a jury was told. The fraudsters Continued on Page 5 Continued from Page 1 were eventually caught out in a solicitors' office when they were on the cusp of completing the sale to fellow conman Benjamin Khoury, 26.

The real owners of the property were in the dark until a chance phone call from a prospective buyer.

A judge at Southwark crown court said the con was "a very sophisticated property fraud" masterminded by a shadowy gang who remain at large.

Mr Bagnall-Oakeley, 77, a retired pension fund investment manager, today told the Standard: "In the 30 years we have owned the property we were burgled three times, but having someone try and nick your entire house is a first. By the time we found out about it the plan was starting to unravel.

"We found out because my wife got a telephone call from the purchaser asking about the deal. Her response was 'I don't know what you're talking about.' This was probably about a week before the arrests."

Scotland Yard had received an anonymous tip-off and set up a sting.

Pacskowska, who claimed in court that she was paid PS3,000 to pose as Mrs Bagnall-Oakeley by a woman calling herself Amisha Singh, sobbed as she was given a community order after previously admitting fraud. Mother-ofthree Brzezinska, who wept throughout the hearing, and Khoury, who lives in Hackney, were also spared jail. …

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