An entrepreneur from Huddersfield has been jailed for four years after he was said to have perpetrated a “web of deceit” involving benefit fraud and property and bank offences.
Sentencing Malcolm Leslie Forsyth at Leeds Crown Court, Recorder Michael Wheeler said his offending had gone on for a long time, had involved others and displayed a “staggering amount of dishonesty”.
Christopher Rose, prosecuting, told the court the offences included opening bank accounts under false names as far back as 1985 and obtaining loans dishonestly.
In 2001 he also obtained a mortgage for £113,000 in a false name for a house in Lightridge Road, Fixby, persuading a licenced conveyancer, Stephen Cox, to register it improperly along with another address in Bradford.
The appearance that the properties were owned by others allowed him and other members of his family to improperly claim benefits such as housing, council tax or income support. Mr Rose said as a result of his arranging for them to claim they were tenants in the property they were able to obtain the benefits from Bradford or Kirklees councils between 2007 to 2014.
Forsyth also claimed benefit for himself without disclosing the income that resulted from renting properties. The total benefits defrauded were £78,373.
Jonathan Lennon, representing Forsyth, said he had initially qualified as an electrician but had branched out into building and property development and was very successful. He had then opened two nursing homes but was then hit by the financial crash of 2007/2008. He sold off the nursing homes and for a time had a coffee shop in Huddersfield which was sold in 2012. Throughout he was trying to support his family and had managed to service the mortgage taken out on Lightridge Road and loans so the banks had never lost out.
Rodney Ferm, for Cox, said he had allowed himself to be persuaded by Forsyth that the building society and land registry should be deceived over the mortgage and ownership on the grounds that Forsyth already owned properties and was not likely to get a further mortgage. “He had no idea this would ever be used as a vehicle for benefit claims.”
Forsyth, 61, of Lightridge Road, admitted nine charges of fraud and seven of obtaining property or services by deception.
Cox, 69, admitted two offences of deception and was sentenced to 20 months in prison suspended for 18 months. Recorder Wheeler told him he had let his family and profession down.