A mother and son who conned banks out of more than £2 million by posing as wealthy property developers have been jailed for a total of five years.
Bonnita Read, 64, who ran Mill Lane Antiques in Mill Lane, Woodford Green, and her son Niki Wood, 40, of New Road in Leigh-on-Sea, used a corrupt mortgage broker, to secure 16 fraudulent mortgages totaling £2,157,414 between 1999 and 2008.
Some of the properties in areas including Chigwell, Ilford and Woodford Green were bought and sold for a profit, while others were purchased for the buy-to-let market.
The duo were arrested in 2009 after an investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), but their first trial was aborted when Read collapsed in the dock with a suspected heart attack.
Sentencing them at Blackfriars Crown Court last Friday, Judge David Richardson dubbed them as ‘brazen’ for denying their guilt.
He said: “The purpose of this was to make a whacking profit.
“You were canny and clever, sometimes too clever by half in the way you gave evidence.
“You came across as a good deal more astute than you pretended to be, and built up a nice little portfolio of properties by your deception.”
Defending Read, Bernard Eaton, said his client’s life would be ruined as a result of her conviction.
He said: “She will be thrown into the gutter in financial terms.
“It will have a horrific emotional cost to her, and she is living with that.”
Wood, who wept and hugged his mother as sentence was passed, was jailed for two years after being found guilty of four counts of obtaining money by deception.
Read, was jailed for three years after being found guilty of 12 counts of obtaining money by deception.
During the course of their investigation SOCA uncovered the fact that Mill Lane Antiques was used to provide false employment details, income and references for other illegal mortgage applications.
A third defendant, Frank Osaze Omoruyi, 41, of Martin Road in Dagenham, obtained false references from the business and allowed his identity to be used by people to gain employment when their immigration status prohibited them from working.
He was jailed for a year for one count of obtaining money by deception, and two counts of identity fraud.
Proceedings are still active against the mortgage broker who helped facilitate the scam.