A mum from Blackpool posed as a multi-millionaire to help pull off an ‘audacious’ £1.2m property fraud so she could share the cash with her model daughter in Dubai, a court heard.
Dianne Moorcroft, 62, of Warley Road, North Shore, changed her name by deed poll to convince estate agents and solicitors she was the 85-year-old owner of a vacant £3m house in Eagle Place, Kensington, it is said.
Moorcroft would not have become involved in this scam at all if it weren’t for the involvement and encouragement of her daughter
Moorcroft’s daughter, Dubai-based stable owner and model Laylah De Cruz, 31, is said to have encouraged her to take part in the fraud.
A British passport and Dubai resident’s permit in the 85-year-old’s name were obtained to get a tenancy for the property – and then arrange for its sale while the real owner was living in Cambridge.
A £1.2million bridging loan was secured against the house before a buyer was found and immediately transferred the money to Dubai, Southwark Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Teresa Hay said: ‘The fraud itself was as simple as it was audacious.
‘The conspirators include not just these two ladies but others who identified a vacant property likely to be of significant value because of where it was in south west London and then obtained a tenancy for the property.’
She continued: “Moorcroft would not have become involved in this scam at all if it weren’t for the involvement and encouragement of her daughter.
“The roles they played respectively in the grand scheme were relatively small but they were hugely significant in the success of the scam.’
The pair deny one count of conspiracy to commit fraud between July 1 and October 31 2014, and Moorcroft denies a further charge of possession of an identity document with intent. Moorcroft met with a property lawyer in London to arrange for the sale of the property, the court heard.
Ms Hay said the lawyer failed to notice the images on the passport and identity document did not match and did not resemble Moorcroft.
She convinced him she owned the Eagle Place property and he acted as a solicitor in the sale of the house, jurors heard. The fraudsters sent him an email applying for a loan against the property before a buyer could be found and he negotiated a £1.2million offer.
By the time he and the loan company were informed of the suspected fraud, the money had been transferred to Dubai and withdrawn in chase, making efforts to retrieve it ‘pointless’, the court heard.
Police began investigating the alleged fraud in January 2015 and discovered there were only two people in the UK named Margaret Gwenllian Richards. Moorcroft was arrested at her home in Blackpool in February 2015 and gave no comment at interview.
De Cruz was arrested in May 2016 after travelling to the UK from Dubai and also declined to answer questions.