A man described as a ‘fraudster on a grand scale’ has been jailed for more than three and a half years after pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering between 2004 and 2014, which helped him amass a portfolio of 88 properties worth in the region of £10m with help from criminals and his girlfriend.
Manchester-based Scott Rowbotham, 35, was said to be receiving in the region of £500,000 a year in rental income from his buy-to-let portfolio, which he assembled with the help of members of the underworld in the Tameside area, including drug dealer Billy Black, who was then the partner of police killer Dale Cregan’s sister, Stacey Cregan.
Manchester Crown Court heard how Rowbotham, who claimed to be an operations manager for a TV company earning £48,000 a year to enable him to secure loans, exaggerated the value of properties he was buying to secure 100% loan-to-value mortgages, reduce his capital gains tax liability and maximise his profits.
He then let out the properties, most of which were in Tameside, and remortaged them to fund yet more purchases, land deals and building projects across Greater Manchester.
However, it turned out that Rowbotham earned just £1,000 in declared income and paid only £18.20 in tax in an 11-year period, prosecutor Nick Clarke QC said.
The court also heard how Rowbotham falsified sales to friends in order to raise additional finance, until his scam was discovered by a police and HMRC investigation.
Judge Hilary Manley decided to sentence Rowbotham, of Ashes Close, Stalybridge, to three years and eight months in prison.
Rowbotham’s partner, Louise Burns, who will apparently manage his letting business while he is in jail, has been given 15 months suspended sentence for two years, with 100 hours unpaid work after admitting fraud.
Her mother, Joan Burns, 63, of Hollingwood Hall Farm, Mottram, also secured a mortgage for Rowbotham and admitted fraud. She was given a 12-month community order and a £500 fine.
Anne-Marie Fielding, a property developer, based in Stalybridge, also helped Rowbotham obtain mortgages, and was given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years, after admitting fraud, with 250 hours unpaid work.
Clarke QC said: “It’s impossible to know just how much illicit profit Mr Rowbotham has made. Criminals do not keep accurate, complete accounts, much of what they do is deliberately shady. What we can say is Mr Rowbotham is a fraudster on a grand scale.”