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Designer who cheated investors out of 300k, jailed

JAIL: Elle Tyree

A designer who's products showed at London Fashion Week, has been jailed for five years for swindling investors out of £320,000.

Elle Tyree, 32, who was behind the label Sophia Beckford, used the money to fund her lavish lifestyle, including shopping sprees and hotels abroad, an £80,000 Range Rover and a Thames-side flat overlooking Tower Hill.

According to the Evening Standard, investors thought they were injecting cash to finance the production and sale of designer handbags. They told Inner London crown court how Tyree had portrayed herself as a self-made “millionaire” who flew around the world striking business deals.

To con them into handing over cash she told victims that Sophia Beckford, which launched its first collection of bags at the 2014 Fashion Week showcase, had received orders for handbags from major international retailers, including Barneys and Saks.

She produced fake invoices with fraudulent HSBC bank statements to dupe her victims. Rather than the money being spent on making handbags, it was directed into Tyree’s own account.

Detective Constable Stewart Walker, who led a City of London Police investigation, told the jury that several transactions from Tyree’s accounts were made during the fraud, including thousands of pounds on shopping in Las Vegas and international hotel stays. The court heard Tyree did make one order for 14 handbags to be manufactured for £2,897.31.

As a result, Tyree, who was born in the US, was found guilty of two counts of fraud and jailed for five years.

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

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