A former property solicitor Ian Macfarlane has been jailed for five years after fraudulently taking over freeholds in London and then demanding ground rent and other revenues.
Ian Charles Macfarlane, 56, of Winterborne Kingston, in Dorset, was handed the jail term at Bournemouth Crown Court on October 3 2016.
He was convicted on five counts of fraud by false representation at an 11-day trial, and was ordered to pay court costs of £18,000.
Macfarlane had previously been struck off as a conveyancing solicitor in Blandford in 2005.
The court heard that Ian Macfarlane identified freeholds of properties, mainly in the London area, where he recognised that the freeholder had been missing or absent. He then falsified documents to the Land Registry in order to transfer properties into the name of his company, Kingston Property Management or other false names.
In order to do this Ian Macfarlane broke the trust of Chester & Co solicitors, whose name he used in order to process documents through the Land Registry.
Once Ian Macfarlane became in control of the freeholds, he was then able to demand ground rent, offer lease extensions and the sale of the freeholds to leaseholders living within each property. He stood to gain in excess of £200,000 had he been successful.
Dorset Police said: “The case started in 2011 and involved a complicated and extensive investigation into the possession of a number of properties.
“I would like to pay tribute to the witnesses in this case – many of whom had to travel from across the country in order to give evidence at court during a prolonged trial.
“I hope this sentence shows that we take allegations of fraud extremely seriously and will bring offenders to justice.”
LKP would very much like to hear from leaseholders caught up in this fraud by Ian Macfarlane and his Kingston Property Management. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Macfarlane’s legal career ended in 2005 after he stole more than £825,000 from the Inland Revenue by paying money into a bogus bank account he had set up in the name of “Ian Revue”.
He was jailed for three years and nine months.
Ian Macfarlane, who then lived in a £750,000 country house in Winterborne Kingston, drove a Mercedes and educated his children at an independent prep school, used his “simple, almost childlike, fraud” to help fund his lifestyle.
Ian Macfarlane, a partner at Traill & Co, in Blandford Forum, Dorset, should have sent clients’ stamp duty payments to the Inland Revenue using the company chequebook. Instead, he wrote cheques to “I. Revue”, which looked very similar when hurriedly written.
He admitted 26 charges of theft and asked for 137 offences to be considered.
Congratulations to Dorset Police for persisting with a fraud case, doubtless encouraged by the dodgy past of this struck-off solicitor.
Most police forces run a mile from fraud cases, and LKP has not been resoundingly successful in interesting them in leasehold frauds of one sort or another. Then again, the Serious Fraud Office’s abysmal reputation in this area is recorded on this site here
Knowing nothing about this case, we are surprised it took 11 days for this case to work its way through the criminal courts. The expense of that would have been staggering.
No wonder most police forces presented with evidence of fraud in leasehold think of every conceivable reason why they should do nothing at all.