A FORMER law student stole her next door neighbour’s identity to carry out a £100,000 luxury car scam.
Stephanie Lane, of Marsden Way, Seaham, used Susan Cooper’s personal details, which she obtained from a bank statement delivered to her in error, to apply for credit for high-value vehicles.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 24-year-old applied for finance for a £50,000 BMW, a £40,000 Audi, a £10,000 BMW sports car and a £5,000 Volvo in her neighbour’s name.
Despite the applications being granted by the four showrooms she visited, the mum-of-two’s plan to get her hands on the vehicles was foiled when the companies asked for extra confirmation of her identity.
Lane, who has 10 GCSEs and three A levels, including law, was arrested after details of the finance agreements were received by Miss Cooper.
Lane pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud during a two-week period in February.
Mrs Cooper told police she was left under enormous stress and worry about what impact the scam will have on her future credit rating.
She said she was disappointed a neighbour would act in such a way.
Her statement said: “She never even attempted any explanation or apologised for her actions.
“It is very difficult for me to see Stephanie Lane, knowing she was the person responsible for causing me such stress and worry.”
Judge John Evans said Lane’s education had been a success and told her: “On the face of it you appeared to be someone who was destined for a life which would be fulfilled and would certainly be honest.
“It is difficult to comprehend what was going through your mind when you embarked on this series of attempts to obtain valuable cars.”
Lane was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 250 hours unpaid work and a three-month night time curfew.
Nick Cartmel, defending, said the scam was “clumsy and inadequate” as Lane used many of her own personal details, including her address, on some of the applications.
Mr Cartmel said Lane has two young children to care for and added: “She is a non violent, non sexual offender who I would ask the court to give a chance to.
“She is genuinely remorseful.”