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Serial fraudsters to pay back nearly £1m of their ill-gotten gains

November 22, 2012, 4:16 pm

At Sheffield Crown Court on Tuesday 20th November 2012, it was determined that three serial fraudsters, Dennis Morris, David Smith and Susan Clarke, had benefited by a total of over £2.2m from the proceeds of their crimes and made a total confiscation order against them to the sum of nearly £1m.

Dennis Morris (59), of Low Row, Port Mulgrave, Whitby, was found to have benefited by £1,060,000 and given a confiscation order of £544,896.57 to pay back in one year, or face a further 3 years imprisonment.

David Smith (58), of Mortomley Lane,Sheffield, was ordered to pay back £409,465.34 of the £996,103 hed benefited from due to his part in the fraudulent activities.  He was similarly given one year to pay back the money or face a further 3 years in prison.

Susan Clarke (51), also of Mortomley Lane, Sheffield and long-term partner of Smith, was found to have benefited by £179,333 and ordered to pay back £210.75 in the next seven days or face a further 3-months in prison.

The result comes after all three defendants were jailed in September 2010 following a three year fraud investigation that was conducted by North Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Police, with assistance from the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team.

The investigation began in Port Mulgrave, Whitby following an allegation of Housing Benefit fraud. Morris, who was sentenced to 4-years in prison, was living with his partner but he had pretended to be her landlord since 1984. Following the arrest of Morris in October 2007, various documents such as driving licences and financial records were seized which showed he was using other identities in the Sheffield area and claiming benefits himself.

Further enquiries revealed that Smith, who was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison, and Clarke, who has served her 21 month prison sentence, were connected to the addresses that had been used by Morris. They too were falsely claiming state benefits.

Following their arrest in December 2008, it was discovered that the attic of a derelict property in Mortomley Lane, Sheffield had been used as a makeshift office and was the “nerve centre” for the fraud. Various computers and filing cabinets were found which revealed the fraudsters had created numerous identities from addresses which they had either bought or rented and obtained credit and bank accounts in respect of these false names. They also obtained drivers licences and purchased vehicles under their assumed identities.

In total, the conspiracy had netted the defendants approximately £1 million from numerous financial institutions and over £300,000 in state benefits.

From the available funds due to be recovered from the Confiscation Orders, compensation was also awarded by Sheffield Crown Court to Sheffield Council, Scarborough Council, DWP and Rotherham Council.  Morris is to pay £35,614.55, £57,584.27 and £49,758.86 to Sheffield Council, Scarborough Council and DWP respectively. Smith will pay Rotherham Council £22,307.33 as well as paying £84,022.49 and £23,750 to Sheffield Council and DWP respectively.

Overall, the financial investigation carried out by the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team revealed that the fraudsters had used 185 different identities and held over 300 bank or credit card accounts over many years. Amongst the properties that were identified seventeen had been purchased by the defendants some of which were in false names.  Offshore trusts and properties in France were also discovered. All the assets that have been identified are subject of restraining orders.

Speaking of the case, Detective Chief Inspector Lisa Atkinson, Head of the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team said:

“This was a sophisticated operation in order to commit fraud offences against both the public and private sector.  We worked closely with both South and North Yorkshire Police to robustly target these criminals make sure they do not profit from their ill-gotten gains.”

Graham Wragg, Head of South Yorkshire Polices Economic Crime Unit said:

“These three have spent a lifetime defrauding financial institutions and the benefits system for their own gain but at a cost to us all. It is only right that they should be made to repay the monies. South and North Yorkshire Police together with the RART are committed to ensuring that no criminals are allowed to benefit from their crimes”

Detective Inspector Ian Wills, Head of North Yorkshire Polices Economic Crime Unit said:

“The confiscation orders made today bring to a conclusion an investigation that grew out of a joint investigation with Scarborough Borough Council into a fraudulent housing benefit claim. I would like to congratulate the tenacity and skill of all the staff involved in identifying and bringing this sophisticated identity fraud conspiracy to a successful conclusion”.

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