A WIDNES man was among six members of the same Merseyside family sentenced for buying luxury homes through mortgage fraud.

They were all convicted following a 23-week trial in June and were sentenced today, Monday, for fraud and money laundering at Manchester Crown Court.

Tony Smith, 35, of Regency Park, Widnes was convicted of mortgage fraud and money laundering. She was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years

The court heard the activities were discovered after the arrest of James Shirley on suspicion of possession of Class B controlled drugs.

He was found to be in possession of £6,000 cash and a receipt for £800 worth of hydroponics equipment, shown in court to be for the commercial and industrial production of cannabis.

The subsequent investigation revealed the criminal lifestyle he and other members of his family had been leading.

Over a period of four years, the family committed multiple mortgage frauds falsely declaring their income in order to obtain mortgages on luxury properties in Kirkby, Widnes, Ormskirk and Warrington.

In 2005 James Shirley bought a house on Regency Park, Widnes for £360,000, again stating he was self-employed with Jackymundos, and claiming he was paid money at a time which HMRC records show his earnings were nil.

On the same application Toni Smith stated she was employed as a computer manager for Jackymundos, declaring earnings in excess of what she had reported to HMRC she was paid.

DS John Webster said: “The sentencing shows that we will use all available powers to pursue and prosecute organised criminals.

“All of the Shirley family had use of the luxury vehicles and in some cases paid cash for them using third party bank accounts.

“Now this complex and lengthy investigation has been exposed and dismantled and I would encourage anyone who is aware of people involved in similar criminal behaviour to come forward.”

If you’re suspicious, or think you have been a victim of a scam, please call the Action Fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040