Jobless sisters in mortgage fraud scam

Robyn Hall

November 8, 2011

Andrea, 40, and Roberta Vaughan-Owen, 35, drove luxury cars including a Mercedes, bought property to let out and educated two children privately, Caernarfon Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Paul Taylor told the court the pair’s fraud started with tax credits and moved on to mortgage and insurance fraud before they attempted the massive VAT fiddle, Wales Online reports today.

Both deny nine charges including defrauding the tax credit system and registering false companies in order to submit a fraudulent claim for a VAT refund of £161m in 2008.

The court heard details of the luxury lifestyle enjoyed by the sisters, of Colwyn Bay.

The elder sister, a former post office worker separated from her husband, had a Mercedes car, her two children were privately educated, and she had two houses, one worth £400,000, Mr Taylor told the jury.

They allegedly had private health insurance, spent hundreds of pounds on spa treatments and expressed an interest in a new Rolls-Royce Phantom worth more than £300,000 and country houses and commercial properties worth millions.

EASY TO CHEAT

“This is a case of our time and for our time. It’s a case of ‘if you want you can have it’. You can have it without doing any work to earn it,” Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor said that the pair found that the tax credit system was “particularly easy to cheat” and enabled the sisters to obtain “tens of thousands of pounds to which they were not entitled”.

He told the jury: “You may be shocked to hear that all you had to do was pick up the phone and get through to the tax credit helpline and say ‘the situation is still the same – I’m still working’ and the money carried on.”

HEAD SCRATCHING

Mr Taylor described civil servants as “inept”, saying: “They didn’t make any inquiries, they didn’t ask any questions.”

The prosecutor said the sisters, of Colwyn Bay, didn’t work. But Andrea Vaughan-Owen’s award was based on her claim that she worked at least 32 hours a week and earned £800 in a year.

“I suspect that would make you scratch your head,” the prosecutor suggested to the jury.

“They funded a lifestyle beyond the dreams of most honest working people.”

Both sisters said that they were involved in a recruitment consultancy.

Their trial continues


Sign up to our daily email