Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Model and Mother in 'Ps3 Million Property Fraud Plot' Woman Fooled Estate Agents by Posing as Owner of Mews House, Court Is Toldmother 'Changed Name to Match Elderly Homeowner's to Help Get Bridging Loan'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Model and Mother in 'Ps3 Million Property Fraud Plot' Woman Fooled Estate Agents by Posing as Owner of Mews House, Court Is Toldmother 'Changed Name to Match Elderly Homeowner's to Help Get Bridging Loan'

Article excerpt

Byline: Tristan Kirk Courts Reporter

A MODEL and her mother plotted to take control of a pensioner's PS3 million Kensington house in an "audacious" property fraud, a court heard.

Laylah De Cruz, 31, enlisted her mother Dianne Moorcroft, 62, to pose as the owner of the mews home, fooling solicitors and estate agents into believing she was looking to sell up and move to Dubai, it is said.

The pair were lured into the scam by fraudsters with the offer of PS100,000, jurors heard, helping to secure a PS1.2 million bridging loan on the four-bedroom property. Moorcroft, who lives in Blackpool, changed her name by deed poll to Margaret Gwenllian Richards to make it identical to that of the house's 85-year-old rightful owner. She allegedly secured a UK passport and Dubai residency permit in Mrs Richards's name to convince loans firm Finance and Credit Corporation to transfer PS1.2 million to a bank account in Dubai, Southwark crown court heard.

The deal was flagged as a possible fraud by the Land Registry but the money had already been withdrawn as cash in Dubai before investigators could stop it.

De Cruz and Moorcroft are standing trial accused of conspiring with others to carry out the fraud in mid-2014. Prosecutor Teresa Hay said: "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.

"She was encouraged and supported in the endeavour by her daughter Laylah De Cruz." Messages between the pair Continued on Page 5 Continued from Page 1 show Moorcroft was worried that changing her name would cause problems with her medical documents but De Cruz told her: "It's 30k, you fly here for two days then back. You can change to your other name. It's only your passport, not all your docs."

In a later message to her, De Cruz apparently revealed that the payment had been increased, saying: "It's now 100k for you."

Ms Hay said the property, which was vacant as owner Mrs Richards lives in Cambridge, was rented by a man called Mark Armstrong for PS6,500 a month in August 2014.

He then went to a solicitor, claiming to represent Mrs Richards and saying she was looking to sell up and move to Dubai. …

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