[A] woman has been jailed for five years and a half years for property fraud offences committed in Carlisle and elsewhere across the country.
Lynn Alexander Harrison, 47, also known as Anna or Anouska Onassis, of Benton Road in Newcastle was found guilty of ten counts of fraud on March 31, after a five week trial involving fraudulently obtaining upmarket tenanted properties. She also pleaded guilty to witness intimidation on May 24 and has now been jailed at Newcastle Crown Court today (on Tuesday, July 19) for these offences.
She was also given restraining orders against all five of the landlords who have been a victim. All of the orders are for an indefinite period of time.
The offences involved fraudulently obtaining tenancies and bank accounts.
The investigation was sparked in 2013 after a complaint was made by a landlord in the Tyne Valley. This led officers to several other addresses owned by other landlords where there were tenancy issues with the same two tenants.
Harrison submitted false information and documentation to secure tenancies, she claimed to be an area manager of a consultancy company earning a £55,000 salary, and she supported her application with false addresses.
When the tenancies were obtained, a number of complaints about the condition of the properties were made to the landlords, to have ‘so called’ grounds to withhold rent payments. When the landlords attempted to make good any defects, excuses were made and locks were changed to prevent them gaining access. In some cases this resulted in civil action proceedings to evict the tenants but they still refused to pay rent and then threats were also made to landlords and their representatives.
West Tynedale Neighbourhood Inspector Kevin Oates said: “Harrison and her partner carried out a pre-planned sustained series of offences over a prolonged period to systematically defraud landlords.
“This pattern of offending was carried out between 2008 and 2013 in Northumberland, Carlisle, North Yorkshire (Northallerton and Harrogate) and Suffolk (Cavendish). It also led to two banks, Barclays and HSBC, being defrauded.
“This was a complicated and detailed case with officers dealing with victims across the country who had been defrauded in this calculated manner.
“We are pleased with the result at court and hope it shows that these types of crimes do have real consequences for offenders.
“We want to make it clear that these crimes are addressed by the police and anyone who is a victim or such an offence should report it to the police.
“We also want to advise landlords to always ensure they make full background checks before granting a tenancy and handing over keys to a potential tenant, however plausible the prospective tenant may appear.”