A property fraudster who swindled property investors of more than £5 million offering impossible returns on Cyprus property has been sentenced to 8.5 years in prison.
Leeds Crown Court heard that Sascha Morris attracted cash from UK overseas property investors offering unachievable returns on quick sales and also promising leasing opportunities for unsold properties from her relationships with holiday letting firms that in fact did not exist.
Investors were told to invest money into off-plan Cyprus property developments at the beginning with the promise that they could sell before completion.
However, when buyers were not found the investors were then chased for further payments they had not expected to pay as the projects neared completion.
In another fraud over £2.6 million was sourced from two separate groups of investors to a company formed to finance property developments.
Each group of investors thought that their investment was underpinned by the value of the company, but was unaware that the other group was involved and would be entitled to half of that value. The vast majority of the money was lost when the schemes failed.
Following an investigation by North Yorkshire Police’s Major Fraud Investigation Team Morris was convicted of two counts of fraud and another of fraudulent trading.
Specialist Prosecutor from the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, Simon Higginbotham, said: ‘Some of the investors targeted by Sascha Morris had to remortgage their homes or borrow large sums in order to raise money they had never expected to pay.
‘Through careful analysis of the financial transactions the prosecution was able to demonstrate to the jury how Morris deliberately misled investors in order to achieve financial gain for herself.’
Overseas property investors should always carefully investigate any offers made by investment companies and developers. If returns seem too good to be true, they probably are!