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Woman sentenced to five years in jail for £320,000 high-end fashion fraud

On Friday (1 September 2017) a fashion designer Elle Tyree, 32, of no fixed abode, was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court to five years imprisonment, after she was found guilty for two counts of fraud by false representation.  

 An investigation carried out by the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad found that Tyree had taken £320,000 from two finance companies who believed they were financing orders for designer handbags.  

Between December 2015 and October 2016, the two finance companies provided Tyree’s company, Poiret Martins Group (PMG), with £320,000. 

Both companies provide finance to businesses based on their outstanding purchase orders and invoices; the first company advances finance to companies to help with the manufacturing costs, using the applicants’ purchase orders as a guarantee, whilst the second takes assignment of outstanding invoices for a proportion of their face value from its customer.  

Tyree approached the first company in December 2015, requesting help to fill several orders with major international retail stores including Barneys and Saks. Tyree supplied them with copies of the customer orders, after which they agreed to finance Tyree and PMG’s purchase and sales transactions and share the profits as set out in an agreement. 

In July 2016, they spoke to Tyree, stating that there had been no payment from the first set of invoices and that as such, they would not be providing her with further finance. 

On 7 July 2016, Tyree started to work with the second company. They entered into an agreement with PMG and Tyree on the premise that seven invoices from six companies totalling over £1.8 million had been sold to her. On the strength of this, they forwarded over £187,000 to the PMG account. On 8 July 2016, over £25,000 was withdrawn from this account and transferred into an account in the name Miss Elle Tyree.  

The payment dates for when the invoices should have been paid passed and the second finance company became suspicious that none of the companies had made any payments. On 11 October 2016, they wrote to all the ‘debtors’, supplying a copy of their relevant invoice which had been provided to them by Tyree and asked them to make payment of the amounts due. 

Following this, three of the six companies responded to them to state that the handbag range mentioned in the invoices was not known to them and that no such orders had been made.  

Tyree was instructed by the second company’s solicitors to provide the Royal Courts of Justice with details of her global assets, including copies of her bank account details. After failing to do so, their solicitors went to HSBC bank directly, who supplied six months of Tyree’s bank statements to them. However, the statements that came from HSBC showed an entirely different set of circumstances than the ones presented to them by Tyree and it was clear that the ones she had supplied were fake.  

It was discovered through a court procedure that the original material used by Tyree to secure the finance was entirely fabricated, at which point the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad began an investigation. Tyree was arrested on 4 November 2016.  

Detective Constable Stewart Walker, who led the investigation for the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad, said:  

“The sentencing highlights the severity of this crime and the hard work of the Fraud Squad to ensure that Tyree did not go unpunished.  

“Tyree abused her position as a fashion designer to deceive the victims who lost vast amounts of money to her.  

“Her sentence reflects the manipulative, premeditated and complex fraud that she has been found guilty of.  

“Let this serve as a warning to those thinking about committing financial crime; however complex and devious, you will be caught!”

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