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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Bank scam mastermind may have to sell his Wigton home

A criminal behind a £314,000 international banking scam might be ordered to sell his house today to settle a court bill.

Mark McCracken, 39, is believed to have bought a £90,000 house with the money he made from what a judge has described as “a large and sophisticated” fraud in which the identities of people – many of them dead – were stolen and used to apply for credit cards and bogus bank accounts.

At Carlisle Crown Court yesterday the prosecution began proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act to make him pay back the money.

And that, the court heard, could mean the selling of his house in Brindlefield, Wigton.

McCracken, who used to live in Stanhope Road, Carlisle, before moving to Wigton, was jailed for 40 months last summer after pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud banks, building societies and credit card companies. Michael Harrison, 30, also of Brindlefield, Wigton, got three years when he admitted the same offence.

Yesterday DC David Gardner told the court that by analysing all the losses incurred by the banks and building societies he calculated that the two men had made a total of £314,769 (£361,323 including interest) from their crime. By splitting that amount equally between the two men, he said, he had come to a figure of £180,661 which should be repaid by each of them.

He said McCracken had realisable assets totalling nearly £110,000, though he accepted that about £17,000 had been gained legitimately through insurance pay-outs after his son was severely injured in a road accident.

Of the rest, he said, £90,000 could be raised by the sale of his house.

McCracken asked for the case to be adjourned because, after sacking his legal advisers yesterday after “a breakdown in communication”, he had nobody to help him.

But Judge Paul Batty QC refused to postpone the case, saying it had been McCracken’s own decision to dismiss his lawyers.

“This case has been adjourned far too many times already,” he said. “It will not, repeat not, be adjourned again.”

The case continues today.

At the same hearing Harrison admitted that he had benefited to the tune of £180,661, but the prosecution accepted he had realisable assets of only £207.

The judge ordered him to hand over that amount.

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