Forensic investigation element of UK's longest criminal trial
A case that started in Glasgow’s High Court in September 2015 has just ended with the jailing of a married couple for large-scale property fraud in what is believed to be longest criminal trial in UK legal history. The case has been described by police as “one of the largest, most complicated property fraud investigations ever carried out in Scotland”. It is estimated to have cost around £7.5m and involved financial and computer forensic experts.
Edwin and Lorraine McLaren have been convicted of putting together a £1.7m property fraud over six years in which they duped vulnerable victims in financial difficulties into signing over their homes.
The scams included a ‘sell and rent back’ con, which involved conning victims into signing over their homes and subsequently, by further deception, tricking them into transferring the proceeds of sale into an account Edwin McLaren controlled.
In some instances, he pretended to individuals that he would give them loans to pay off their mortgages and other debts when, in fact, he had arranged the sale of their properties to an associate. The fraud continued by using this cash as deposits for the next fraudulent transaction.
The forensic accountants’ investigation took over four years, in which experts “worked tirelessly to unpick the network of banking transfers and legal documentation for 24 properties”, according to a police source. A team of specialist search officers, telecommunications and computer forensics experts, financial investigators and criminal analysts had pored over “hundreds of thousands of documents” to follow the trail and identify those behind the racket, he added.
Although this took considerable time, as usual the forensic analysis finally undid all the knots and the true picture emerged, showing the McLarens in their true colours, as “heartless individuals driven by greed”.
Author: Roger Isaacs, 21 July 2017