A £1.2 million property fraud has resulted in a model and her mother being jailed after being found guilty at Southwark Crown Court.
Laylah Scarlett De Cruz, 31, who resided in Dubai, and her mother Dianne Jean Moorcroft both denied conspiracy to commit fraud, but were found guilty by a jury majority of 10-2.
The court heard that the property fraud was enacted by the pair, who with others conspired to rent a four-bedroomed property in Kensington using fake documents.
Moorcroft went on to change her name by deed poll to that of the genuine owner of the property, who was deceased. She then travelled to Dubai where she opened bank accounts – using a new UK passport – in the dead woman’s name, before returning to London and successfully applying for a loan of £1.2 million against the property.
The loan was approved in October 2014 and the funds transferred to Moorcroft’s Dubai bank accounts, from where they were later withdrawn in cash. The funds have never been recovered.
Detectives launched an investigation into suspected property fraud later that month after the Land Registry reported suspicious activity around the Kensington property, and Moorcroft was arrested in February 2015 at her home. De Cruz was arrested as she entered the UK from Dubai in May last year.
De Cruz was jailed for five years last week and Moorcroft sentenced to three years in prison.
Prosecutor Teresa Hay said during the trial: ‘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.’
Director of Legal Services at HM Land Registry, Alasdair Lewis, commented: ‘Property fraud causes a huge amount of distress to its victims and today’s custodial sentences properly reflects the serious nature of the crimes.
‘This case highlights the importance of taking steps to protect your property from fraud, particularly if it is tenanted or left empty.’