UK’s Biggest Ever Female Fraudster Jailed
A female property investor, who posed as an a South African heiress to build up a portfolio of luxury properties in London, was jailed for nine years on the 9th November, after being caught with thousands of fake identity documents.
Mauritian-born serial con artist, Maria Michaela, was convicted for defrauding high street banks of almost £15 Million (GBP) in mortgages, making her the UK’s largest ever female fraudster.
Her main accomplice, Mary-Jane Rathie, a Chelsea-based surveyor, was given a six-year prison sentence after being found guilty of overvaluing properties that Michaela was purchasing in exclusive prime central London locations, including Chelsea and Belgravia, with some valuations reportedly double their true worth.
Other accomplices, Stephen Hunter-Scott, Guy Steel and Saba Humadi, who were involved in other property scams worth approximately £2 Million (GBP), also appeared with Michaela in the dock at Harrow Crown Court.
Hunter-Scott and Guy Steel were sentenced to six and four year prison terms respectively while Humadi was handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years.
Detective Inspector Andy Fife of City of London police told the press, “We think she (Michaela, whose real name is believed to be Bruna Louise) is the UK’s biggest ever female fraudster. We have not had any female previously commit fraud on this scale before. Maria Michaela created a web of deception that duped banks into handing over vast sums of money and then perpetuated her crimes by assuming a new alias to try and secure more loans. False identities and a corrupt property surveyor were the tools she used to make millions, turning herself into one of the, if not the, most prolific female fraudster the UK has ever seen
Harrow crown court was told that Michaela had used a number of fake identities to secure four loans totalling £10.5 Million (GBP) from HBOS bank with a view to acquiring eight properties. She also managed to obtain £2.5 Million (GBP) from the Royal Bank of Scotland to acquire five more homes.
Michaela, who will be deported after her release from jail, admitted to eight counts of fraud, had defaulted on the loans and vanished with the money until she was caught and arrested in January this year. However, millions of pounds of stolen money have yet to be recovered.
Jailing her last week, Judge Graham Arran said, “You were a very experienced, highly skilled and exceptionally well-equipped fraudster.”
Chelsea-based property surveyor and accomplice, Mary-Jane Rathie, was convicted and jailed for six years at the Old Bailey last year after being bribed by Michaela.
Rathie received £910,000 (GBP) in cash, a £143,000 (GBP) Bentley Continental and a £49,000 (GBP) Range Rover Sport, to significantly overvalue a house in Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, South West London. The property was valued by Rathie at £6 Million (GBP), with a rental value of £270,000 (GBP) per year (4.5% gross rental yield), but the property was actually worth £3.5 Million (GBP) with a rental income of £180,000 (GBP), giving a 5.1% gross rental return.
Read the full BBC article here
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