Property Dealer Convicted Of £5m Cyprus Scam

A fraudster duped investors out of more than £5 million after promising them sky-high returns on Cyprus property deals that failed to materialise.

Sascha Morris, 46, ran a property firm near Harrogate, Yorkshire, and persuaded customers to part with tens of thousands of pounds on off-plan developments on the Mediterranean sunshine island.

Morris ran the firm –  Morris & Hall – from the village of Killinghall. The company started in 2004 and was wound up in the public interest by a court in 2009.

A jury at Leeds Crown Court heard two separate fraud allegations.

In the first, clients were encouraged to invest on properties that had not been built on the promise they could sell at a profit before completion or let them out to holidaymakers if they were not sold.

Lies about holiday firms

However, she lied about her links with a holiday letting firms and clients were asked to hand over more cash as the properties were built.

The promised returns did not materialise and one client lost £250,000 on her investment.

Around 40 clients of the property firm lost a combined £3 million in this fraud.

In the second, Morris also conned two groups of developers who staked their investments against the same property without knowing that each other were involved in the deal.

Losses added up to around £2.2 million from this scam.

For the prosecution Nadim Bashir told the court that Morris misled investors by suggesting well-known holiday companies would buy or rent the properties, but they lost their deposits or had to pay the full property price when they had not expected to do so.

Investors misled for financial gain

Morris denied two fraud charges and one of fraudulent trading.

The jury found her guilty on each count. The case was adjourned until January 9 for sentencing.

Simon Higginbotham, a specialist prosecutor from the Crown Prosecution Service Specialist Fraud Division, said: “Some of the investors targeted by Sascha Morris had to remortgage their homes or borrow large sums 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 to achieve financial gain for herself.”

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