A FAILED mortgage broker who claimed to be a lord has been jailed for a multimillion-pound fraud.
Michael Robinson, pictured, led a network of associates as they tried to con £2.2million out of lenders using the stolen identities of homeowners selling high-value houses.
They impersonated people as they applied for mortgages on five homes across the country.
Teesside Crown Court heard Robinson turned conman when convictions for dishonesty put a stop to him trading officially.
While sentencing the “orchestrator” to six years and three months yesterday, Recorder Michael Taylor said: “You had a Walter Mitty sort of existence. You purported to be a lord of the land. That was to try and impress people, to try and convince them and try and present yourself as different to what you really were, which is a crook.”
Father-of-five Robinson, 45, of Webb Avenue, Murton, and formerly of South Hetton, used an account at a Peterlee bank to launder money.
Accounts belonging to his family, along with foot soldiers in the finance industry, solicitors or business contacts, were also used.
The con was rumbled when a banker they targeted noticed mortgage repayments going out of his account.
Mark Giuliani, prosecuting, said they believed his earnings were high enough for him not to notice thousands being taken by the lender.
Robinson admitted a charge of conspiracy to defraud and two of conspiracy to convert criminal property.
He also pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud by false representation, using fuel cards to buy tens of thousands of pounds of petrol, and given a three-month concurrent sentence for contempt of court by breaching a restraining order on his finances.
His main helpers were Nicholas Van De Saar, 34, of Bury St Edmunds, who created fake documents and admitted conspiracy to defraud and three counts of fraud by false representation, and Barbara Burton, 55, of Watford, who admitted conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to convert criminal property, using her mortgage experience to make applications.
Van De Saar was jailed for four years and three months and Burton for 30 months.
The fourth player at the “top of the tree”, mortgage broker Brian Lambert, 47, of Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, was sentenced to 25 months after admitting conspiracy to defraud.
The court heard £1.3milllion of the £1.75million paid out from the crimes remains missing.
The recorder said while fraud against big lenders is seen as victimless, this affected people directly, with one victim who had her house “sold from under her feet” and her family to feel the impact forever.
John Thomas Cairns, 37, of Glenshiel Close, Washington, was found guilty of conspiracy to convert criminal property and was sentenced to two years.
David Karim, 60, of Warnham Avenue, Grangetown, Sunderland, admitted conspiracy to convert criminal property and was sentenced to 15 months.
Samuel Koufie, 36, from Floathaven Close, Greenwich, London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to convert criminal property and received 15 months.
Ian Widdowson, 52, of Walsall, was jailed for 30 months to be served concurrently after he was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to convert criminal property.
Benjamin Wright, 36, of Bloxwich, West Midlands, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to convert criminal property and was sentenced to 24 months concurrent on both counts.
Jacqueline Pearson, 65, of Edenbridge, Kent, was given six months in prison, suspended for 12 months, after admitting conspiracy to convert criminal property.