Model and her mother jailed for £1.2m Kensington property fraud

Patrick Grafton-Green
Laylah Scarlett De Cruz, who lives in Dubai, was jailed for five years

A model and her mother have been jailed after the mother assumed the identity of a dead Kensington landlady to make more than £1 million in a property fraud.

Laylah Scarlett De Cruz, 31, who lives in Dubai, and Dianne Jean Moorcroft, 62, of Warley Road, Blackpool, were both found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to commit fraud.

On Friday, De Cruz was jailed for five years and Moorcroft sentenced to three years in prison.

In 2014, the duo conspired with others to rent a four-bed property in Eagle Place, Kensington, using fake documents.

Fraud: The model in her police mugshot (Met Police)

When the tenancy of the property had been secured, Moorcroft changed her name by deed poll to that of the genuine owner of the property, who was deceased.

She then travelled to Dubai where she opened bank accounts - using a new UK passport - in the dead woman's name, Scotland Yard said.

After that she made her way back to London where she successfully applied for a £1.2 million loan against the property.

Laylah De Cruz: The model has been jailed

The loan was approved in October 2014 and the funds transferred to Moorcroft's Dubai bank accounts, from where they were later withdrawn in cash.

Detectives launched an investigation later that month after the Land Registry reported suspicious activity around the Kensington property.

Prosecutor Teresa Hay said during the trial: “The fraud was as simple as it was audacious. Dianne Moorcroft changed her name by deed poll in summer 2014 solely for the purpose of participating in this fraud.

“She was encouraged and supported in the endeavour by her daughter Laylah De Cruz.”

Moorcroft was arrested in February 2015 at her home and De Cruz was arrested as she entered the UK from Dubai in May last year.

The proceeds of the fraud have never been recovered.

The road in Kensington where the home is located (Nigel Howard)

Detective Constable Richard Kirk, of the Met, said: "As these women conducted this devious fraud, it is clear that it didn't occur to them that official agencies would be able to see through their scheme and this was their undoing.

"Although the wider investigation to trace additional members of the network is ongoing, it is clear that De Cruz and Moorcroft played key roles in the execution of this crime.

"It is my hope that their incarceration today has seriously disrupted the activities of any additional members of the group."

De Cruz and Moorcroft both denied conspiracy to commit fraud.

However the jury at Southwark Crown Court convicted the model and her mother by a majority of 10-2 after a ten-day trial.

Alasdair Lewis, Director of Legal Services at HM Land Registry, said: "Property fraud causes a huge amount of distress to its victims and today's custodial sentences properly reflects the serious nature of the crimes.

"This case highlights the importance of taking steps to protect your property from fraud, particularly if it is tenanted or left empty."