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Staffordshire fraud gang jailed

Tried to obtain £10m

Five people have been jailed for a total of more than 17 years for their involvement in a £10 million mortgage fraud.

Two others were given suspended sentences in relation to fraudulently obtaining £45,000.

The sentences followed a three-year investigation by Staffordshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit and the Midlands Regional Asset Recovery Team.

The offences came to light when a financial crime analyst noticed accounts submitted by Tamworth Finance in mortgage applications appeared to have been prepared by an accountant, whose trading name and address were the same as those given by 46 year old Ruth Berridge in an application to re-mortgage her property in Two Gates.

The book-keeper traded as Midland Business Services.

The analyst contacted the named accountant, who stated that she had no knowledge of either Berridge or Midland Business Services and had not prepared any of the accounts or accountant’s references that had been supplied by Tamworth Finance.

A complaint was then made to Staffordshire Police, who launched an investigation.

Inquiries uncovered further evidence of the submission of bogus accounts and accountant’s references by 61 year old Stephen Lamb and Tamworth Finance, all prepared by Berridge in the names of genuine accountants without their knowledge.

The bogus material had then been supplied to other lenders around the UK, securing mortgage advances totalling £5 million.

The advances secured Tamworth Finance thousands of pounds in introducer fees from the lenders, plus thousands of pounds in commission fees from the mortgage applicants.

Stephen Lamb also falsified his and his wife’s income on numerous applications to re-mortgage their own Polesworth property or to purchase buy-to-let properties in the Tamworth area, totalling a further £1.5 million.

His son Simon lied about his and his partner’s income on their application to purchase their home in Birchmoor for £218,700 in 2007.

Evidence was uncovered that Berridge prepared additional bogus accountancy material in mortgage applications totalling nearly £2 million submitted by Bullock and £400,000 by Lall, who fraudulently obtained mortgages for offenders serving jail sentences in prison.

Former mortgage broker with Tamworth Finance, Lamb, of Station Road, Polesworth, near Tamworth, was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and fraudulently obtaining a mortgage.

Berridge, of Fasson Close, Two Gates, Tamworth was also sentenced to five years in prison after admitting conspiracy to defraud.

Michael Bullock, who is 49, of Pioneer Way in  Stafford - a former broker with Cannock-based RJM Financial Services Limited - was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud.

A former broker with Birmingham-based Home Finance Countrywide, 40 year old Amarjit Lall of Etwell Road, Hall Green, near Birmingham was jailed for two and a half years after admitting fraudulently obtaining mortgages.

Stephen Lamb’s son 34 year old Simon Lamb, of Cockspur Street, Birchmoor, Tamworth, was sentenced to 20 months in prison after admitting related fraud offences.

Stephen Lamb’s wife Sheila, a former partner in Tamworth Finance, and their daughter Louise Clarke, both admitted fraudulently obtaining £45,000 from two of their former family friends. The pair, of Station Road, Polesworth, were each sentenced to 15 weeks in prison, suspended for a year, and ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work.

Det Ch Insp Paul Clews, head of Staffordshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: "This was an organised criminal enterprise. The sentences imposed highlight the serious nature of fraud which is a crime that affects us all.

"Together with our regional partners we are committed to taking measures that prevent, disrupt and punish fraudsters to deprive them of their ill gotten gains and assets."

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