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The Masked Tulip

Fraudsters Found Guilty Of Complex Mortgage Con Across Swansea And South West Wales

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FOUR fraudsters conned their way to almost £5 million in a major mortgage swindle taking in almost three dozen properties.

In an complex financial con they bought, sold and built homes across Swansea and south west Wales.

Large numbers of properties in the Swansea and Ammanford areas were snapped up during the eight year swindle.

Swansea men Mark Cainen, 46, of West Cross Avenue, West Cross, and Paul John, of Greenfield Crescent, Llansamlet, were at the centre of the con.

Estate agent Emma Davey, of Rhydargaeau, Carmarthen, also played a key role in the fraud.

Ben Pickering, 35, of Truro, in Cornwall, eventually became the ring leader who directed the lucrative operation.

All four are due to be jailed at Swansea Crown Court tomorrow when their lengthy sentencing hearing concludes.

Cainen and Pickering used computer software to create bogus pay slips and P60 end of year tax documents.

They also had software used by banks to calculate how much cash to lend out to people based on their income.

It allowed them to tailor false salary slips to the amount needed to fraudulently clinch a mortgage and buy a property.

They also used an array of false identities in the con, with Pickering and Cainen changing their names through deed pole for the purpose.

But in addition to invented characters they also stole identities to use as fronts in the mortgage fraud.

The pair also set up dozens of bank accounts in different names as part of the complex swindle.

Paul John, a financial adviser at a firm based in Swansea, used his position to put the applications forward.

Mr Harrison said that banks which were known in the industry to ask the fewest questions were targeted.

Pickering, Cainen and John all admitted a series of counts relating to conspiracy to commit fraud.

In another they talk about using "smoke and mirrors" in a fraudulent mortgage application.

Mr Harrison said that at the outset the gang made cash simply through the rise in a booming property market.

But after the crash they made cash by defaulting on mortgage loans.

When properties were later auctioned off by banks they would buy them back at a lower price.

The gang also bought a farm in Golwy-yr-Ynys, in the Amman Valley, where homes were built for sale.

The gang later sold the homes then defaulted on the mortgage loans.

They then invented land disputes using bogus companies to depress the value of the properties which were later bought back cheaply.

Full story:

http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Fraudsters-guilty-complex-financial-Swansea-South/story-25728989-detail/story.html

I think I will go down and watch the sentencing tomorrow. I might even 'tweet' from the courtroom as is my right.

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Same case - different angle:

Film director Ben Pickering and three others to be sentenced for £5m mortgage fraud

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/film-director-ben-pickering-three-8306303

Four people including a film director are to be sentenced for a sophisticated £5m fraud in which they made more than 30 mortgage applications for properties across South Wales using false names and fictitious employment details backed up by fabricated pay slips.

Swansea Crown Court heard the four conspired to make cash out the housing market by making false mortgage applications for homes using multiple false identities then defaulting on the loans and seeking to buy back the properties, in some cases driving down the prices by making up land ownership disputes making the homes less desirable.

The sentencing hearing began at Swansea Crown Court on Wednesday afternoon where prosecutor Carl Harrison said Ben Pickering, a 35-year-old film producer who was once a prospective Conservative party candidate for the Swansea West parliamentary seat, and Mark Cainen, 44, were “at the heart” of the conspiracy.

The court heard John’s employers were already suspicious of his lifestyle, which included holidays abroad and having a wedding when he was only earning £6,000 a year.

Mr Harrison said: “He had credit card debts of £50,000 and he said he lied to get out his financial predicament which included maintenance payments to two ex-wives.”

Mr Harrison said John was introduced to Pickering at a Freemason’s lodge in London.

The prosecutor said Pickering made up evidence of a “ransom strip” affecting access to a group of properties in Ammanford to drive the property prices down there.

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Ben Pickering

Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne has called on First Secretary Rhodri Morgan to apologise for remarks he made about a prospective parliamentary candidate who was later stood down.

Ben Pickering, the Conservative party's parliamentary candidate for Swansea West stepped down after a row about a failed film project.

It followed accusations made in the Welsh Assembly by Mr Morgan that the 20-year-old had used "fraudulent methods" in attempting to raise money for a gay film venture.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/792547.stm

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Is he in any way connected with that scumbag Tory mp who filibustered better tenants rights a month or so ago?

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The judge just passed his sentence.

If I heard it right then one chap got 8 years. Another guy, Pickering, got 6 years. The financial adviser got, IIRC, 40 months and the estate agent, IIRC, got 12 months suspended for 2 years with 200 hours community service.

I found it riveting.

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Guest Jemmy Button

Uproar in court. There was an audible gasp in the public gallery when the EA exclaimed to the judge 'It was Christie who dunnit".

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To be perfectly honest, I feel sorry for all their families. Each of the barristers gave mitigating reasons for why the judge should be lenient. Yes, I know I am a sucker for a hard luck story but listening to how the lives of relatives had been affected makes you pause for thought.

First trial that I have been to and I was very impressed actually - thought the judge was very impressive.

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£5million mortgage con fraudsters jailed for more than 17 years

Read more: http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/5million-mortgage-fraudsters-jailed-17-years/story-25734465-detail/story.html#ixzz3MGb6tdpp

Passing sentence, Judge Keith Thomas said: "I have to sentence you all for your part in a multi-million pound mortgage fraud."

He summarised the cases against each one and dismisses suggestions the fraud had been triggered by the economic downturn.

"I do not accept that," he said, speaking to Cainen and Pickering.

"I am quite satisfied that the fraud was fuelled not by economic necessity but by greed," he concluded.

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Which one was the evil mastermind behind the whole operation? :rolleyes:

Ben Pickering is the one with the glasses. Mark Cainen - not sure which one he is in the photo as, in the court, they both looked very similar to me.

One of the barristers said something along the lines that Mark Cainen was the leader and that Ben Pickering was simply one of the people working for him with the scams - or something like that.

However, the judge, in giving his verdict, said that the two of them were the ring-leaders and he only gave Pickering 6 years, instead of 8 that Cainen got, because Pickering had pleaded guilty as opposed to Cainen who had pleaded not guilty.

*According to the Evening Post article Mark Cainen would be the one on the right in the above posted photo.

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What were they actually hoping to achieve?

Its not like they could disappear with the cash, it was spent buying houses.....

No, somehow they got hold of cash which was either deposited into bank accounts - Ben Pickering had accounts under the name of Ben Williams apparently - and then the money was shared out in some way. There were also brown envelopes of cash.

But you are right, how they went from mortgage fraud to getting their hands on hard cash was not clear. I wish I had gone to the trial now and heard how it was done.

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Anyone can buy a cheap repossessed house and sell it at market value (or above) but there is the doubt about what it is actuall worth, and being able to sell it on at market value. It will be much easier and faster if you have friends or multiple identities. Each identity will only be good for one purchase.

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Anyone can buy a cheap repossessed house and sell it at market value (or above) but there is the doubt about what it is actuall worth, and being able to sell it on at market value. It will be much easier and faster if you have friends or multiple identities. Each identity will only be good for one purchase.

Ah i see. So the gang would buy a property and then sell it to themselves again for a larger sum using another mortgage, pocketing the increase in price along the way.

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Ah i see. So the gang would buy a property and then sell it to themselves again for a larger sum using another mortgage, pocketing the increase in price along the way.

There was also mention of 'ransom strips' in the court.

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