Inheritance Tax Bill Scam Cost Executor £120,000
A married couple from Northfleet in Kent tricked an executor out of an inheritance tax bill.
Lee Finch was conned by email into paying an inheritance tax bill totalling £120,000 into the fraudsters account.
The judge heard that in the summer of 2017, Mr Finch had emailed a solicitor’s firm in order to settle an inheritance tax bill for a family member.
The fraudsters, Johnson Mujungu, 53, and Grace Ntolera-Mujungu, 42, intercepted the emails between Mr Finch and the solicitors which meant the crooked couple’s bank details were used instead to pay the bill.
Mr Finch only realised later that the money had not reached the firm of solicitors but instead was transferred to the fraudsters’ bank account.
The tax bill amounting to £120,000 was then “dispersed” by Ntolera-Mujungu and her husband who both owed money to other people and were clearly in debt.
It has been revealed to Maidstone Crown Court that Mr Finch was forced to pay the bill again and it has transpired that his bank is refusing to reimburse him the £120,000.
The deceitful couple were found guilty of fraud and money-laundering charges, even when they appealed by stating that they thought the deposit was for other work.
The jury did not believe their claim and sentenced them both of the scam which had caused undue suffering and stress and almost ruining the victim’s marriage.
Ntolera-Mujungu, who was a former carer and nurse narrowly avoided going to prison due to the judge finding out that she had a 10-year-old child.
However, her husband was given a 30-month sentence as the judge felt he was the main leading player in the fraud.
Mr Finch, who was based in Essex, advised the court in his victim impact statement that the ordeal caused by the cruel deception had “almost cost him his marriage”.
Prosecutor Walton Hornsby said the bank had refused to recompense him for the misplaced cash.
And Judge Stephen Thomas added:
“The bank has told the victim they won’t give him the money and the consequences, and the upset has had an effect on his life in general.
“The consequences for him have been truly awful, who through no fault or negligence on his part, lost this money and caused his life considerable damage.
“That money somehow got diverted into your bank accounts and was then dispersed around.”
Judge Stephen further added that even though Mujungu was convicted on a single money-laundering charge which involved £50,000 and his wife was convicted on two charges for £120,000, he viewed the husband to be the more guilty party and the main player in the con that took place.
The Judge said:
“I had the opportunity to see you both give evidence (during the trial), and, as a finding of fact, I find that Mujungu was the prime mover in this scheme.
“And in my judgement his wife just went along with it, although she would have known what was happening.”
The judge informed Ntolera-Mujungu that the result of sentencing her to prison could have a damaging impact on her child, so made the decision to suspend the 18-month jail sentence for two years – but she was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work for the community.
The Crown Prosecution Service is likely to proceed with an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recoup the monies from the couple’s assets.