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Five people including a former police officer have been sentenced for the biggest ever mortgage fraud in England and Wales.
Ex-officer Antony Lowry-Huws, 65, from Kinmel Bay, north Wales, was said to be the ringleader and was jailed for seven years for leading the £50 million fraud that involved more than 1,000 bogus mortgage applications, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
His wife Susan Margaret Lowry-Huws, 60, also from Kinmel Bay, was given 12 months suspended for two years and 300 hours' community service; while his business partner Sheila Rose Whalley, from Llanfair Talhaiarn, north Wales, was jailed for six years.
Solicitor Nicholas John Jones, 54, from Leeswood, Flintshire; and surveyor Frank Edward Darlington, 62, from Barnoldswick in Lancashire, were each given four years.
Elspeth Pringle, specialist fraud prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "The scale, duration and sophistication of this fraudulent scheme are a demonstration of criminal behaviour at its most devious.
"The actions of the five members of this mortgage fraud ring were motivated by nothing more than greed, and their willingness to betray the trust of mortgage lenders for personal profit seemed to have no limits. "
Each of the co-conspirators sentenced today had their own specific role to play in this intricate crime, and all were fully aware of the deceitfulness of their actions.''
The complex scheme involved some mortgages against properties that did not exist, as well as the use of false property valuations and fraudulent paperwork claiming to show rent incomes and deposits.
Each of the five defendants was convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud in relation to 189 fraudulent mortgage applications made between May 2003 and June 2008 - a representative sample of the total number of bogus applications made.
Detective Chief Inspector Iestyn Davies from North Wales Police said: "Operation Valgus is reportedly the largest mortgage fraud ever investigated in England and Wales. It is the largest fraud ever to be investigated by North Wales Police by a considerable margin in terms of value, complexity and substantiality. "
We welcome the sentences imposed today in relation this multi-million pound investigation which took five years of painstaking investigation to reach this successful conclusion.''