‘Deceitful’ husband ‘ruins life’ after taking out fraudulent £20,000 loan – getting his ex-wife to help him
A DECEITFUL husband ‘ruined his life’ after he coerced his hard-up former wife to pretend she was his current spouse so he could take out a high interest £20,000 loan against his matrimonial home.
Sneaky Scott Benfield, 58, secured the loan against his home with current wife Jennifer Benfield without her knowledge in a wickedly deceptive act described by a judge at Portsmouth Crown Court as ‘appalling’.
The court heard how the defendant’s cunning master plan backfired in spectacular fashion after Mrs Benfield started getting ‘terrifying letters’ from the lender saying her ‘home would have to be sold’.
The victim had been dragged into the murky plan after Benfield’s previous wife, Carlene Benfield, 45, had faked being his current partner when filling out forms to the Buckinghamshire loan company Alfandari.
But despite ‘getting away’ with his underhand arrangement for a few months in late 2017 and 2018, the wheels started to fall off when the defendant was unable to keep up with payments.
He took out the loan after struggling to make ends meet from his plumbing business.
Prosecutor James Kellam told the court: ‘Mr Benfield ran a plumbing supply business that got into difficulties. He took out a loan of £20,000 which was secured against the house he shares with his current wife without her knowledge.
‘He told his previous wife Carlene Benfield to impersonate being his current wife by using a fake driving licence and when signing forms.
‘For a while he got away with it before he got into difficulties which made it impossible for him to keep up payments. Soon the bailiffs were coming round and then him and Carlene Benfield were arrested. They made full and prompt admissions.’
The court heard how despite paying back £10,000 on the loan, Benfield’s life was now in ruins with him still having to pay back £38,000 due to the high interest.
‘The house he owns with his wife is being sold and he plans to pay off his debt from his share of the equity,’ defence barrister Richard Sedgwick said.
‘Once it is sold his wife will move to Leigh Park. It is not known if he is going with her yet or if he will end up sofa surfing.
‘He has lost his wife, his relationship with his former wife, his house and business. He has totally (ruined) his life.’
Robert Bryan, defending Carlene Benfield, said it was a ‘one-off’ on her part with her not fully ‘understanding the fraudulent’ actions.
Both admitted one charge of fraud each. But with Benfield the brains behind the scheme and applying ‘pressure’ on his former lover, his actions were deemed far more serious, therefore ‘plainly passing the custody threshold’.
Judge David Melville QC said: ‘It’s hard to imagine anything more deceitful than what you did. It is an appalling way to treat your wife.
‘You knew your former wife was short of money after she asked you for a loan. You said: “I will give it to you but you must help me out.” She was in a dire situation and you thought she could help you out.
‘All this was done behind your wife’s back. You now have significant debts to pay – out of the equity from your family home.’
Despite taking a dim view of the defendant’s actions, the judge stopped short of imposing immediate custody on Benfield, of Battenburg Avenue, Portsmouth, and dished out a 16-month jail term suspended for two years.
He also has to fulfil 200 hours of unpaid work.
Carlene Benfield, of Widley Road, Portsmouth, was given a 12-month community order including 15 rehabilitation days.