Property fraudster jailed for £3.5m con

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A confidence trickster is back behind bars after being found guilty of a £3.5 million property swindle in which he tried to buy luxury homes near Daventry without having a penny to his name.

Richard Jerome, from Towcester, was branded “a menace” by a judge after a jury put an end to his career of deceit.

Jerome, aged 65, of Watling Street, posed as a suave international financier working with Unesco, even though he had only just been released from jail for an identical series of frauds in which he targeted rich single women.

He went round with his ex-wife Hazel. They pretended to be super rich ex-pats who had just come back from tax exile in the Caribbean and were searching for the perfect retirement home.

They looked at Ambleside House in Hellidon and Badby Lodge Farm near the village between 2009 and 2011 as well as homes in Devon, Cornwall and the East Midlands. The couple’s aim was to repeat a swindle in which they persuaded the owners to let them move in while the money to close the deal was transferred from abroad. They would then become middle class squatters who refused to budge or pay rent. In the end they failed because the owners and their estate agents became suspicious and realised they had both done it before.

Jerome and ex-wife Hazel, aged 62, made false representations that they had the funds to purchase the properties.

Jerome also faced three charges of obtaining more than £1,000 worth of surveys on the properties by deception and the US$100,000 fraud against an accountant in 2011. They were found guilty of all charges and Jerome was remanded in custody pending sentence. His wife was bailed.

Judge Erik Salomonsen told Jerome said: “You know the score. You are a confidence trickster. You are a menace. You were a menace when you were convicted before and you continue to be a menace.”