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Brighton couple jailed for fraud offences
A married couple who claimed benefits while living off a life of crime have been jailed for a total of nine-and-a-half years.
Clifford and Julia Wake, aged 52 and 44, were jailed for seven years and two-and-a-half years respectively at Lewes Crown Court today (March 1).
They were convicted following a South East Organised Crime Unit investigation which revealed between 2003 and 2011 the Wakes lived their luxury lifestyle through money laundering and other illegal means.
Clifford Allen Wake’s businesses replaced windows in council houses in Brighton and Hove, took on multi-million contracts in south London and helped build a hospital in Tunbridge Wells with various companies.
But the 52-year-old declared earnings of just £31,000 in eight years while claiming £19,000 in benefits.
The Wakes, of Whitethorn Drive, Brighton, claimed they earned money honestly but a jury at Lewes Crown Court saw through their lies.
Clifford was found guilty of two offences of fraudulent trading, four of theft, five of money laundering, four offences of obtaining property by deception or dishonestly, and one offence of failing to disclose property whilst bankrupt.
He was found not guilty of one offence of money laundering.
Julia was found guilty of one offence of failing to disclose property whilst bankrupt, four offences of obtaining services by deception or dishonestly, and three offences of money laundering.
She was found not guilty of two offences of money laundering.
Following sentence, a Sussex Police statement said: “They enjoyed a comfortable, sometimes extravagant lifestyle with vehicles, boats, property, and travel not as a result of honest hard work but from using criminal money which they acquired in various different ways.
"For some of this period, they reported to the authorities that they were living off a modest or meagre income.
“They even received state benefits. That may well have been the extent of their legitimate income but the true picture was very different.
“Clifford Wake was the prime mover in providing this criminal lifestyle.
“His wife seemed happy to enjoy the fruits of his dishonest labour but also played her part in misleading the authorities and a number of money-lending institutions.
“Clifford Wake siphoned off money due to creditors of his business ventures, using it to try to fund other business projects, he disposed of property belonging to others, he obtained various loans dishonestly, he dealt in stolen goods and property, and generally was living a life which was so far above his legitimate means that he had to be financing it with the proceeds of crime whether by himself or by others.
“He tried to conceal his assets and converted money into property or income which he could then spend.
“Julia Wake applied for mortgages by lying about her income and assisted her husband in acquiring, using and concealing money, property and other things.”
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