Sentencing for land banking fraud

What is the sentence for land banking fraud?

Land banking fraud is a type of investment fraud scam. The way it works is that the victim is sold a piece of land on the promise that the value of it will rise dramatically when planning permission is granted.

land banking fraud

The land will normally have some form of protection order on it, such as that of land in the ‘green belt’. Therefore, it’s unlikely that development would ever be permitted on the land, so the value would not ever increase in the way that it’s potential was described to the fraud victim.

Land banking fraud is the type of scam that the elderly, and other victims put their life savings, homes and retirement funds on the line in the hope of realising profits on the land. Those who are duped by scams of this nature are sometimes foreign nationals who don’t understand how local laws work. Others will be people who have a large sum of disposable income and who are looking to invest. In some cases, it’s vulnerable and confused elderly people who are the victims.

Unfortunately, this is a crime that is on the increase. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) estimates that so far land banking fraud has cost the UK economy approximately £200 million.

To help you to understand what the outcome might be as a result of being convicted of land banking fraud, we’ve detailed the sentencing guidelines below.  Please note that a competent and experienced solicitor may be able to get any prison sentence reduced or even avoid it entirely.

More about land banking fraud

When it comes to land banking fraud, a significant portion of the case rests on the prosecution’s allegation that the realistic prospects of planning permission being granted were very little (or none) and those accused, deliberately and dishonestly exaggerated those prospects to lure investors to part with money.

When you engage a solicitor, they will generally build their defence on when the due diligence is undertaken. There will be potential compliance with planning permission rules and regulations are core areas for the defence to consider.

People who are being accused of this offence can feel very nervous when they think of the consequences of being found guilty. It’s likely that they will be imprisoned and bonds with loved ones will be threatened. It could be challenging to earn an income to support dependents and relationships will be tested.

It’s essential to take the legal guidance of land banking fraud solicitors as soon as you have any idea that you are going to be investigated.

Have you been charged or arrested for land banking fraud?

If you or somebody you care about has been charged or arrested in connection to a land banking fraud case, you’re most likely feeling anxious.

Land banking fraud is an offence that the police want to be seen to be eradicating. It’s an offence that is similar to boiler room fraud and costs the UK economy a lot of time and money.

In some instances, a person will have been accused of playing a part, but in reality, they have had no involvement whatsoever. In situations like this, it’s crucial that you get your name cleared so that you can go forward from this point without there being any consequences of having been wrongly accused in a crime where you played no part.

If you’ve been falsely accused of it, then you will need legal help from competent fraud solicitors. Receiving false accusations can damage the reputation of you and your business. It’s essential to take early action to provide you with a strong defence.

What is the average sentence for land banking fraud offences?

It’s typical for those involved in land banking fraud to receive a sentence of anywhere up to six years imprisonment. The convicted are also like to be disqualified from being a director for between 5 and 10 years.

How does a court decide on the seriousness of the land banking fraud offence for sentencing purposes? 

The information that judges are given with regards to sentencing are only guidelines, and each case will be looked at individually. One of the factors judges consider in every case of this nature is the defendant’s level of genuine remorse.

The following factors are considered when the court decides which sentence to give. They will look at:

  • Your previous conviction
  • The seriousness of the crime
  • The harm caused
  • How much money was involved
  • How many victims were there
  • If the victims were elderly or otherwise vulnerable

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the land banking fraud sentence?

Certain aspects of a case are known as the mitigating aspects which can influence the sentence that a judge gives. In land banking fraud cases, they may include:

  • Whether the defendant is disabled or mentally ill
  • The age of the defendant, i.e. if they are particularly young their age may affect their level of responsibility
  • If there are previous, relevant or recent convictions
  • Suspect shows a considerable degree of genuine remorse
  • If you are of previous good character with exemplary conduct
  • If there is a learning disability or mental disorder linked to this offence
  • There have been demonstrative steps made to address this behaviour

Is it possible to reduce a sentence for land banking fraud with a guilty plea?

In recent years, a number of changes have been made to the sentencing system in the UK to save the court time and cost and to protect witnesses from the stress of needlessly going through a trial. For offenders aged 18 and over, pleading guilty early on in a case can reduce a sentence by as much as one third (maximum). The later the plea is entered, the smaller the reduction.

‘Early on’ refers to ‘the first stage of the proceedings’ and means anytime up to and including the first hearing at the Magistrates Court or Crown Court for indictable offences.

If a plea is entered 14 days after the first hearing, for example, the maximum level of reduction is just 20% or one fifth of the sentence. For indictable offences, the limit for a guilty plea to be made is within 28 days after the prosecutor has stated compliance with section 3 of CPIA 1996 and serving disclosure; although the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Judge who has discretion to apply whatever credit is deemed appropriate.

After these times there is a sliding scale of credit applied. This goes down to one tenth on the first day of the trial and to zero if entered during the course of the trial. In theory, the ten percent could be given if the plea is issued after the opening speeches on the first day, but prior to any witness evidence being heard.

If the accused does not want to plead guilty, then it’s important for the solicitor to regularly inform the court throughout the trial of the reasons why the client’s plea is not guilty.

What are some of the other consequences of the land banking fraud offence?

Ancillary Orders

A court can also make ancillary orders on a defendant if they are found guilty and convicted of a land banking fraud offence. These are extra elements of punishment that can be added to a sentence and include additional restrictions or requirements that can affect a dependent’s finances, your property or business or financial activity.

Ancillary orders that are typically added to the penalty for those who are found to be guilty of land banking fraud include:

  • Compensation for loss
  • Restraint orders
  • Reparation orders
  • Financial reporting order
  • Disqualification from directing a company
  • Confiscation orders

As part of your investigation, you may also have your assets frozen with the possibility of having cash or other assets seized.

Engaging a land banking fraud offences solicitor who has deep experience and knowledge of this area of the law, means you will have access to information on the typical sentencing for the offence with which you may have been charged.

In addition, the court may demand payment of the following if the accused is convicted:

Payment of costs applied for by the prosecutors

Although the police meet some of the costs involved in the prosecution, the costs of investigation are typically sought from the convicted. These may include the costs of:

  • The work done in obtaining sufficient evidence for prosecution either at the initial stage or later at the request of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • Seeking medical or expert evidence as part of the investigation, (where a witness is required to attend Court, the cost of the attendance falls on the CPS).
  • Re-interviewing witnesses
  • The entire costs of the prosecutor, including fees for the use of external Barristers used by the CPS, can be recovered from the defendant, subject to means. At the end of the case, the prosecutor under The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 will request the Judge to order a sum to be paid for the costs incurred by the prosecutor in bringing the prosecution.

Victims surcharges

The term victims’ surcharges can be explained as paying compensation to a fund for victims and can range between £20 to £170 depending on what sentence you were given at conviction.

How sentences can be added to national information databases

There are several national databases that hold information about individuals and any allegations made about them, their criminal and court records. These include the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) which was previously known as the CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) and the Police National Computer (PNC).  Depending on what happened, whether the accused is convicted and what sentence was issued, the accused may be added to one or all these databases. Their purpose is to provide information to potential employers and to regulate the ability to take part in certain activities.

If your case progresses to court and you are convicted of land banking fraud and defrauding the HMRC tax office, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The period of the endorsement will depend on the nature and length of your sentence.

Below are details on how long you will be listed as holding a criminal record if convicted. This is something very serious to consider when it comes to future employment. The term ‘spent’ refers to when your name can be removed from the databases.

Rehabilitation Period
(the time it takes for the sentence to become ‘spent’)
Sentence Adult (aged 18+) at time of conviction Young person (aged under 18) at time of conviction
Prison sentences of more than 4 years Sentence is never spent Sentence is never spent
Prison sentences of more than 2.5 years (30 months) but less than 4 years Sentence length 7 years Sentence length 3.5 years
Prison sentences of more than 6 months but less than 2.5 years (30 months) Sentence length +4 years Sentence length +2 years
Prison sentences of less than 6 months Sentence length + 2 years Sentence length +18 months
Conditional Discharge Length of order Length of order
Absolute Discharge None None
Conditional Caution 3 months 3 months
Simple Caution / Youth Caution None – immediately ‘spent’ None – immediately ‘spent’
Other Including Compensation Order, Supervision Order, Bind Over, Hospital Order Length of the order / once compensation is paid Length of the order / once compensation is paid

Have you been arrested or charged with land banking fraud?

If you have been arrested, charge or invited to the police station for ‘a chat’, it’s vital that you engage the services of a competent and experienced land banking fraud solicitor.

The primary goal of the police is to secure convictions. They have had extensive training in a variety of techniques that they use in the hope of tricking you into incriminating yourself.

The police will typically withhold some of the evidence that they have against you. However, if you have a solicitor with land banking fraud experience and knowledge by your side, they will be able to demand to know what other evidence the police have against you.

Once this information has been disclosed, then it’s possible for your lawyer to begin building a robust defence to afford you protection. The lawyer will have your interests at heart and will be looking to ensure that they win the case.

Our team of lawyers are particularly competitive and help each other to ensure that they win their cases.

In addition to our team of experienced and competent solicitors with expertise in land banking, we have several barristers, QCs and expert witnesses who will help to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.

In some cases, our team can even get your case dismissed before it reaches the court stage.

What most of our clients tell us after their case is that they were surprised at how well we communicated and kept them up to date with any developments. They also typically comment on how supported they felt during their trial. Our team go the extra mile when it comes to assisting clients as we know that it makes all the difference between winning and losing a case. We are here for you not only in legal terms, but to provide you with support for the personal challenges you’ll face during the trial.

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

At Stuart Miller Solicitors, we have a large team of solicitors including a number of fraud solicitors with experience in land banking fraud.

Our fraud solicitors will approach your case by examining the evidence meticulously. Where there are schedules of telephone contact, observation evidence, banking records, etc. these are analysed and the client is involved in the explanation of the significance of the evidence. After all, there are always two sides to a story. We may also be seeing witnesses, taking statements, gathering documentary evidence in the UK or abroad and preparing other relevant evidence to present the client’s case in the best light.

Interviewing architects who may have drawn up plans, speaking to planning officers who may have provided preliminary advice on the proposals, check the specification of the land against publishes planning permission rules and regulations online are all crucial tasks for a land banking fraud lawyer.

After that, it is fundamental to understand how the funds received were used. Whether any applications were made, whether the funds were feeding exuberant lifestyles, excessive commission payments and being withdrawn out in cash. In any event, if such factors did exist, our fraud solicitors will establish your compliance with Companies Act Legislation and the satisfaction of HMRC liabilities on funds collected.

This is the core benefit of instructing exclusively land banking fraud solicitors who defend fraud cases on a daily basis. We develop fraud solicitors to be commercially savvy and to have the skills to advise on all areas of importance to someone facing Land Banking Fraud Allegations. Matters of Restraint Orders, Cash Detention, Property Seizures, Money Laundering and Confiscation are within the fluent knowledge of our Fraud Lawyers.

Would you like to discuss your land banking fraud case before instructing us?

If you’d like to have a no-obligation chat with us before you instruct us to take your case, then call us today.

In addition to giving you a free consultation, we can also represent you at the police station if you’ve been arrested. We can look at securing your legal aid.

Please Contact Us and ask to speak to our land banking fraud lawyers and fraud solicitors to arrange a meeting in person, online or by telephone. If you prefer, you can WhatsApp us from the link you will find at the bottom banner if you open this page on your mobile phone device.

Get in touch with us now for land banking fraud legal help.

Emergency?

Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.