Woman used 12 identities to obtain nearly £15 million
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/23/2012 -- A 33-year-old woman who had used as many as 12 different identities to bilk almost £15 million (approximately $24 million) from British banks was arrested and began serving a nine-year jail term.
Maria Michaela, who was visibly shaken and sobbing deeply as she mentally processed her arrest as seen by her mug shot. She had been posing an heiress to the South African Sun City luxury resort.
She stated that her net worth was £250 million (approximately $398 million) and used that to obtain loans from several London-area banks. For example, she received four loans worth £10.5 million (approximately $17 million) alone from a senior banker at HBOS and another £2.5 million (approximately $4 million) from RBS.
The money was used to by many high-priced items, such as a £3.5 million (approximately $5.7 million) home in Chelsea and another property in the Belgrave section of London, not far from Buckingham Palace.
An accomplice of Michaela, Mary-Jane Rathie, who is the wife of a policeman, aided her in the con when it came time to selling the properties she bought with the conned money. Rathie, a chartered surveyor, wrote reports that artificially inflated the worth of the properties. As a result, Michaela received loans from the banks that were worth significantly more than the properties she bought.
Michaela, who hails from Mauritius, paid Rathie £910,000 (approximately $1.4 million) in cash and purchase both a £143,000 (approximately $228,000) Bentley Convertible and a £49,000 (approximately $78,000) Land Rover Range Rover Sport for her part in the scam. Michaela failed to make any mortgage payments and defaulted on the loans. She disappeared for approximately three years.
Police nabbed Michaela in January, then discovered hundreds of documents feature several stolen identities that Michaela was using to submit fake mortgage applications.
City of London Police Detective Inspector Andy Fife said of Michaela, “We think she is the biggest female fraudster. We have not had any female on this scale before.”
Police suspect that the actual scale of Michaela’s fraud is likely higher than £15 million due to the amount of false documents found when she was caught.
Judge Graham Aering, when sentencing her at London’s Harrow Crown Court, said, “You were a very experienced, highly skilled, and exceptionally well-equipped fraudster. These frauds were carefully and professionally planned.”.
“They involved the hijacking of other people’s identities and extensive use of fraudulently-created identity documents.”
Michaela had previously pled guilty to two counts of fraud, three counts of conspiracy to defraud and two charges of conspiracy to money launder.
Alongside her on the docket were several accomplices: Guy Steel, Stephen Hunter-Scott, and Saba Humadi, who also received jail time.
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