‘Con Air’ fraudster mother-of-two, 32, avoids jail after scamming airlines including British Airways out of £50,000 with fake insurance claims for flights she never booked
- Taleka White created fake documents to trick insurance companies over flights
- The 32-year-old claimed she missed flights that she had never actually booked
- She claimed more than £55,000 from insurance firms over a three year period
- A mother-of-two, White, admitted 16 counts of fraud by false representation
- White, of Croydon, also admitted two counts of possessing article used in fraud
- She was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment, suspended for 21 months
Mother-of-two Taleka White created fake documents which she used to trick insurance companies into believing she had missed her flight
A ‘Con Air’ fraudster who scammed airlines out of more than £50,000 by making fake insurance claims on flights she never booked was today spared jail.
Mother-of-two Taleka White created fake documents which she used to trick insurance companies into believing she had missed her flight.
In fact, the 32-year-old, from Croydon, had never booked the flight in the first place.
The con artist, a trained ambulance driver, used her routine to claim £55,872 over a three year period.
However airlines targeted by White, such as British Airways, soon clocked on to her scam and reported her to the police.
Now White has been spared prison by a judge, who said ‘more shadowy participants’ were likely behind the scam.
But in a stark warning, the judge added: ‘If you and I meet again in those circumstances the suspended sentence will be activated and you will be marched off to HMP Bronzefield.’
Sahil Sinha, prosecuting, told Southwark Crown Court that White carried out her fraudulent activity between February 2016 and January 2019.
He told the court: ‘It was a process of contacting the airlines and providing documentation relating to some of the claims.
‘The claims that have been the subject of the charges were carried out using a combination of names used, the address used, contact details and her finances.’
White produced flight documents, e-voices, proof of purchases and return flights.
She also submitted letter headed documents stipulating fake reasons for missing flights including blaming late transfer buses causing travel disruptions, said Mr Sinha.
He continued: ‘Either the money was paid into the bank accounts to the name of this defendant or paid to bank accounts and then transferred to accounts in the name of this defendant.
‘The offending had grown in sophistication in part because the early claims were made using the defendant’s name or similar names and the defendant’s bank account.’
Mr Sinha said White switched methods and began using fake names and ran the finances using other bank accounts where money was later transferred to her own account.
The con artist, a mother-of-two, used her routine to claim more than £55,000 over a three year period
But it was not long after some airlines noticed the claims were fraudulent and stopped the transfer of money to White.
Mr Sinha said: ‘Companies such as British Airways noticed the format of these documents were not quite right.
‘A number of those claims were stopped because there was suspicion and they were not paid, £13,000 was not actually paid.’
There is a ‘firm belief’ others were involved in the fraud but Mr Sinha confirmed nobody else had been changed due to insufficient evidence.
Richard Reilly, defending White, said White had no previous convictions.
He argued his client, a single mother of two at the time, made a ‘colossal’ mistake but highlighted White was going through financial troubles.
Mr Reilly said: ‘She is a mother of two children, a 10-year-old son and a three year old daughter.
‘She draws tremendous strength from her children.
‘She was a single mother responsible for their upkeep and looking after them and at the material time she had been moved to Notting Hill and had been experiencing housing difficulties.
‘It goes without saying that she is acutely aware of the seriousness of the offence and the realistic prospect of an immediate custodial sentence.
‘It has been a colossal error of judgement on her part.’
Mr Reilly explained White has a ‘keen interest’ in the law having briefly trained as a solicitor before dropping out and starting a job as an ambulance driver.
He said: ‘She embarked on a degree in law and it is unfortunate that someone with a keen interest in law and who wanted to practice law finds herself in this position in front of the court today.
‘She gained employment as an ambulance driver, it goes to show her determination in life to do well.’
White, who arrived at Southwark Crown Court in a black jacket over a red dress, gasped as Judge David Tomlinson told her she would not be going to jail.
White, who arrived at Southwark Crown Court in a black jacket over a red dress, gasped as Judge David Tomlinson told her she would not be going to jail
Judge Tomlinson told White: ‘The counts on the indictment reflect multiple counts of fraud by fraud representation.
‘No doubt other more shadowy participants were involved but you declined to tell anyone in a position of authority anything that would lead to the identification of any other culprit.
‘You fully understood the nature of the frauds and played an active and persistent role.
‘The cost is passed onto everyone, and with so many people even before the pandemic just managing, the impact of costly insurance of this sort of behaviour is not just financial, it is a human cost which is borne by members of the community as a whole
‘I have come to the conclusion here aided by your guilty pleas, which in their own way I will treat as timely and what I’ve read about you.
‘While the custody threshold is past here by a considerable amount, I am going to suspend the operational period and that will be for some time.’
White, of Croydon, had admitted 15 counts of fraud by false representation.
She had previously admitted a further count of fraud by false representation and two counts of possession of article for use in fraud.
She was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment, suspended by 21 months and ordered to observe an electronically monitored curfew for four months from 9pm to 6am.
The mother of two was also ordered to carry out 20 sessions of organised rehabilitation activities.
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