Self-cert twist to sisters mortgage fraud scam

Robyn Hall

November 9, 2011

Prosecutor Paul Taylor said Andrea Vaughan-Owen, 40, and her sister Roberta, 35, of Colwyn Bay, North Wales, were facing financial pressures.

He said the pair had obtained a mortgage for a £360,000 house in Cwrt Bedw, Colwyn Bay, “because of the daft self-certification scheme the mortgage lenders had”.

But he said that “paying the mortgage was a different kettle of fish”, Wales Online reported today.

When the money from insurance and working tax credit fiddles stopped, he said the pair’s solution was to launch a giant VAT fraud with a claim for £161m.

Continuing his opening of the prosecution case at Caernarfon crown court, Mr Taylor also attacked the “ineptitude” of civil servants.

DOCUMENTS SEIZED

He said that public servants meekly accepted an implausible explanation in 2008 from the younger sister, Roberta, that she could not find details of her income because tax officers had visited her home the previous November and seized documents, meaning she couldn’t file a return.

Mr Taylor labelled it “another ingenious and dishonest” explanation for not being able to supply details of her earnings.

She claimed she was self-employed and was asked for an estimate of her income.

“Because of the ineptitude of the tax credit people, they put the claim back into payment yet again,” said Mr Taylor.

The trial has heard that the sisters claimed to be recruitment consultants.

But the prosecution allege that they didn’t work and doubled their money with working tax credit and incapacity benefit claims.

ROLLS ROYCE PHANTOM

Mr Taylor said that Andrea Vaughan-Owen had expressed an interest in buying a £3.5m country house at Caernarfon, they tried to order a dozen Land Rovers from a Conwy dealership, and the younger sister inquired about a Rolls Royce Phantom worth in excess of £300,000.

The prosecutor said that the £161m claim was “a serious attempt”.

At the start of the case, the jury heard that the sisters managed to get “tens of thousands of pounds to which they were not entitled”.

It allegedly started with tax credits fraud, and there were mortgage and insurance frauds and the attempted VAT fiddle.

Working tax credit, for people with lower incomes, was “particularly easy to cheat” and civil servants “inept,” said the prosecutor.

“They didn’t make any inquiries, they didn’t ask any questions.”

A MERCEDES CAR

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.”

The elder sister – a former post office worker separated from her husband – had a Mercedes car.

Her two children were also privately educated, and there were two houses – one worth £400,000 to live in and a second to rent out, he said.

They allegedly had private health insurance and spent hundreds of pounds on spa treatments.

Roberta Vaughan-Owen once worked as a civilian for North Wales police.

Both deny furnishing false information by submitting a claim for a VAT refund of £161m in 2008, registering companies for VAT purposes and attempting to obtain invoices to substantiate a claim for a VAT repayment, insurance fraud, and being involved in fraudulent activity to obtain tax credit payments.

Their trial continues.


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