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Mother and model daughter jailed after stealing identity of a dead landlady to steal her plush Kensington home

Mirror logo Mirror 18/03/2017 Mark Johnson
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A stunning model and her mum have been jailed for a million pound fraud that saw them steal the identity of a dead landlady - to pinch her HOUSE.

Laylah Scarlett De Cruz and her mum Diane Moorcroft were hit with lengthy sentences for the scam, which saw them assume the identity of a deceased Kensington property owner.

The 31-year-old, who emigrated to Dubai, was banged up for five years for conspiracy to commit fraud, while her 62-year-old mother, who still lived in Blackpool, was handed a three-year sentence.

The crooked pair were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

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De Cruz and Moorcroft had conspired with others to rent a multi million-pound four-bed home in Kensington using fraudulent documents in 2014.

When the tenancy of property had been secured, Moorcroft changed her name by Deed Poll to that of the genuine owner of the property, who was deceased, and travelled to Dubai where she opened bank accounts in the dead woman's name.

She then came back to London where she successfully applied for a £1.2 million loan against the property.

Moorcroft then withdrew the cash from her Dubai accounts and got a new passport under her new name.

An investigation was launched in October 2014 by Fraud Detectives from the Met's Operation Falcon after HM Land Registry reported suspicious activity around the luxury Kensington property.

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Detective Constable Richard Kirk of the Met's Operation Falcon said: "As these women conducted this devious fraud, it is clear that it didn't occur to them that official agencies would be able to see through their scheme and this was their undoing.

"Although the wider investigation to trace additional members of the network is ongoing, it is clear that De Cruz and Moorcroft played key roles in the execution of this crime.

"It is my hope that their incarceration today has seriously disrupted the activities of any additional members of the group."

Moorcroft was arrested in February 2015 at her home in Blackpool on suspicion of fraud.

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De Cruz was arrested on suspicion of fraud as she entered the UK from Dubai in May 2016.

Following a ten-day trial at Southwark Crown Court, the jury found the pair guilty.

They were subsequently released on bail to returned on Friday for sentencing.

The proceeds of this fraud have never been recovered.

Alasdair Lewis, Director of Legal Services at HM Land Registry, said: "Property fraud causes a huge amount of distress to its victims and Friday's custodial sentences properly reflects the serious nature of the crimes.

"This case highlights the importance of taking steps to protect your property from fraud, particularly if it is tenanted or left empty.

"At HM Land Registry we have prevented frauds on registered properties worth millions of pounds, but no system can be 100 per cent fraud-proof which is why we urge people to keep their contact details up to date and to sign up for our free Property Alert service."

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