Fraudster Jailed After Stealing £75k Home

A con woman has been jailed for 20 months after changing her name by deed poll, and selling a £75,000 house, without the real owner knowing.

A con woman has been jailed for 20 months after changing her name by deed poll, and selling a £75,000 house, without the real owner knowing.

Sarah Broadbelt took out a passport under her new identity of Marion Patterson – the legal owner of the property – and opened two bank accounts, conning the solicitors involved in the sale that she was indeed the legal owner of the property.

Whilst she was instructing the solicitors on the sale of the property, the firm noted that according to the documentation, Broadbelt bought the house when she was six years old.

However, as part of the deceit, she managed to persuade the firm that the reason for this was due to a trust being in place.

Convinced by this lie, the solicitors released the funds and sent it to the newly opened bank accounts, with the cash subsequently withdrawn over the course of five to six days.

The house, which Ms Patterson was renting out after moving to Cornwall from Northamptonshire, was valued by an agent at £200,000.

Broadbelt would have gotten away with her crime if Ms Patterson didn’t decide to sell the property, only to be informed it had already been sold four months earlier.

Jane Sarginson, prosecuting, told Birmingham Crown Court it was a “brazen and calculated” fraud that “struck at the heart of the conveyancing system.”

Broadbelt admitted charges of fraud and possessing a false identity document.

Passing his 20-month sentence, Judge Michael Chambers QC, told Broadbelt:

“You played a prominent role in a sophisticated fraud to deprive the owner of the house its ownership.”

Antoine Muller, defending, said:

“This was someone else’s device, but she did actively participate.

“They needed a lady because of the name on the deed and she played the actress.”

Verifying who you are dealing with when it comes to your responsibilities under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 is becoming increasingly challenging as organised crime finds newer, smarter and more effective ways to perpetrate fraud and launder funds from criminal activities.

Commenting on the case, Sheryl Hodgson, Key Relationship Manager at The Practical Vision Network, home of Lawyer Checker, says

“Law Firms are under increasing scrutiny to demonstrate that they have a robust ‘Know your client’ procedure in place when dealing with AML as part of conveyancing. Technology continues to advance in this area to ensure that law firms are able to combat the new and developing methods of fraud that they are up against.

“Thirdfort is the latest in Lawyer Checker's innovative suite of products helping to defend law firms against the persistent threats lurking in the legal sector, by providing enhanced due diligence to source of funds and ID checks.

“Thirdfort is a client facing app, which revolutionises electronic ID and Source Funds checking. Had Thirdfort been used in this case, the Thirdfort report would have identified as part of the Experian checks, that the address details related to the new bank accounts opened by the fraudster, did not match the address held by Experian. This would have raised an immediate red flag to the law firm.

“I would encourage law firms to book a demo to see how Thirdfort can help you to verify ID and source of funds in minutes.”