Crooked tenant jailed after stealing landlords' identities
Tuesday 12th July 2011
A tenant who stole her landlords’ identities to try and con mortgages worth £3m has been jailed for five years.
Most of her cons were unsuccessful, but she did obtain £515,900.
Feruza Mettrick, a 33-year-old independent financial adviser with knowledge of mortgages, targeted properties being let in Leeds, Huddersfield and Harrogate. She looked for properties which had no outstanding loans or borrowing against them, via letting agents.
She rented them using fake documents and utility bills before pretending to be the real owner and applying for loans.
With the help of two male accomplices, she approached financial institutions for mortgages or loans. In one deception, Mettrick took on the identity of a 67-year-old woman who owned a large detached bungalow in Harrogate and gained a £120,000 home improvement loan.
In some cases, attempts were made to sell off properties without the real owners being aware.
Leeds Building Society, one of the financial institutions concerned, reported its suspicions to police. Mettrick, of Newton Garth, Leeds, was arrested, claiming to be another person and wearing a disguise of wig and glasses at the Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Harrogate last September. She had with her various forged forms of identities as well as seven mobile phones.
One of the mobile phones had a number which had been used in an attempt to sell a property in Harrogate, while keys on a fob related to another address in Harrogate. She also had a Lithuanian identity card.
Mettrick initially refused to cooperate with police until confronted with her own identity information. She subsequently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.
Nick Worsley, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court that Mettrick was the main player in the fraud, and as an independent financial adviser had in-depth knowledge of financial matters. Had all her attempts to get mortgages and other loans been successful, the further loss to lending institutions would have been £2,459,250.
As it was, money had been transferred to Latvia and the Channel Islands.
Mr Worsley added: “This is sophisticated, repeated and professional offending by a defendant adept at using disguise and subterfuge.”
Judge James Spencer said: “She is a conman. I don’t accept anything she says.” He said such fraud would not be tolerated.
Mettrick now faces a proceeds of crime investigation. The other two people involved in the fraud have already been sentenced.
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