Conman ordered to pay back proceeds

A “ruthless” conman who deprived his elderly victims of their life savings has been ordered to repay the proceeds of his crimes.

Mark Frederick Howe, 46, was jailed for 10 years at Leeds Crown Court in October 2008 after a jury found him guilty of 18 charges of theft and deception.

The crimes were committed while Howe was operating as Beech and Howe Estate Agency out of branches in Scarborough and Driffield.

Three years later, in October 2011, Howe admitted conning an 85-year-old pensioner from Humberside into signing a fraudulent mortgage for £58,000. He was sentenced to a further four years’ imprisonment to run concurrently with his existing 10 year jail term.

Following Howe’s imprisonment a protracted enquiry conducted by financial investigator Peter Mekins, of North Yorkshire Police’s Financial Investigation Unit, found that Howe had benefited from his fraudulent activity to the tune of £807,064.

At Leeds Crown Court on Monday, Recorder Eric Elliott QC ordered the conman to repay a total of £185,737 based on the reliable assets he holds. If he fails to pay up he faces a further 30 months’ imprisonment and will still be liable to give the money back.

The recovered funds will be split between Howe’s 13 victims.

Recorder Elliott also issued a Financial Reporting Order against Howe requiring him to report his finances to North Yorkshire Police every six months for the next five years.

He also commended Detective Sergeant Mandy Grundy for her investigative work which enabled the case to be presented before the court.

Detective Inspector Ian Wills, Head of North Yorkshire Police’s Financial Investigation Unit, said: “Howe was completely ruthless. He conned elderly and vulnerable victims out of their life savings which they had worked for many years to build up.

“We are more than pleased to be able to take back a substantial portion of that cash and hand it back to the victims who suffered such heartbreak and anguish due to Howe’s cruel behaviour.

“I hope the victims can take some comfort from the fact that they will get some of their money back and Howe will not benefit financially from his crimes.”