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The Masked Tulip

Couple Conned Homeowners Out Of Thousands By Squatting In Properties They Had No Intention Of Buying

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A couple who posed as affluent house buyers to con sellers into renting their homes before squatting in the property were facing prison today.

Richard Jerome, 62, and his wife Hazel, 64, pretended to live a luxury lifestyle with homes in Jamaica and Barbados, a court was told.

They made cash offers on properties with vacant possession before asking to rent the property while waiting for the sale to go through because they had already moved out of their previous home.

But the couple did not pay rent or utility bills and had no intention of ever buying the properties, the jury was told.

They repeated the scam on two different properties with a combined total value of over £800,000 and squatted in them for a total of 18 months.

The elaborate scam left their victims - including a top criminal barrister - unable to sell their homes until the couple had been evicted following lengthy court proceedings.

One victim, Janet Jarvis, of Milton Keynes, Beds., and another of Mrs Jerome's former colleagues at a primary school where they both worked, died of cancer before the trial took place.

The con artists were finally arrested for driving a stolen car after it was spotted by police operating an automatic number plate recognition camera in January 2008.

A police detective, who first came across Mr Jerome 30 years earlier in an earlier case, then unearthed their web of deceit.

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