Fraudster jailed for mortgage company scam to settle debts

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A DAD has been jailed after defrauding a mortgage company out of a six-figure sum to pay off his debts.

Steven Armit, from Bathgate, West Lothian, obtained £355,000 by pretending his home was worth more than twice its actual market value.

He was caught when a broker spotted that a company address on a remortage application form had been faked.

Livingston Sheriff Court was told that Armit, 40, went to extraordinary lengths to pocket £135,000 after paying off his original mortgage.

He added an extra bedroom to his four-bedroom home to make the fake £520,000 valuation seem more believable and even arranged for a surveyor to fax documents to his local public library instead of to mortgage companies in England.

Police who searched Armit’s home found scans of blank and altered papers, including false valuations, on his laptop.

The father of two, who was yesterday jailed for 33 months, had pleaded his innocence right up until the morning of his planned trial last month.

He eventually admitted defrauding Church House PLC, of Yeovil in Somerset, in 2008.

Eight days after being released on bail to await sentence, Armit then fraudulently tried to obtain a £500 loan, a charge he admitted. He was caught almost immediately because an employee at the loan company in Bathgate knew the person whose name he used to apply for the cash.

A plea of not guilty to an alleged £452,000 mortgage fraud involving Bridgebank Capital in 2009 was accepted.

Prosecutor Paul Beaton told the court that the case had resulted in considerable costs to the public purse. Flights and hotels were booked for witnesses coming from Devon and Somerset, while Crown Office staff were paid to work overtime to photocopy and bind copies of 228 productions for the judge and members of the jury.

Mr Beaton said Armit’s home at Meadowpark Avenue had been repossessed because he failed to keep up with the mortgage repayments.

Solicitor advocate Rhonda Anderson, defending, said the consequences of Armit’s actions would be “devastating” for his wife and two children.

She said: “These were the actions of a desperate man.

“There does appear to be genuine remorse and he is thoroughly ashamed. His parents have indicated that they would be willing to pay back the entire sum.”

Jailing Armit, Sheriff Martin Edington said: “This was a very deliberate offence involving a high level of planning and execution. It was carried out over a significant period of time, which I understand was in excess of six months.

“You’re clearly an intelligent man and yet now a pattern of fraudulent behaviour has emerged, and seemingly with no thought for those who lose out by your actions.

“Your previous convictions, allied to the offence on indictment and the subsequent summary matter, means that no sentence other than a custodial sentence is appropriate.”