A MARRIED mother who posed as a prospective bride on a matchmaking website has avoided jail for cheating seven would-be husbands out of cash and gifts worth about £36,000.
Former Huddersfield woman Sidra Fatima used two identities to lure unsuspecting suitors into the wedding scam, but after they handed over cash and jewellery she called off the “relationship” or stopped answering their telephone calls.
Judge Colin Burn yesterday said the marriage fraud offences, which was one of a variety of criminal scams carried out by Fatima and her former husband Raja Haider Ali, had helped to fund their very comfortable lifestyle while cheated suitors suffered “humiliation, debt and misery”.
In one of her website profiles Fatima, who now lives in the Dewsbury area, described herself as a simple person who was “looking for someone who knows the meaning of love”.
Bradford Crown Court heard that she and Ali worked as a team to dupe would-be husbands, with Ali posing as her brother or cousin during meetings.
Prosecutor John Harrison said: “The defendants made significant sums from this fraudulent activity. It was, the prosecution say, an audacious if simple fraud.”
It is understood the seven victims included men from Yorkshire and southern England.
Victim impact statements from complainants said the social embarrassment was a very significant matter for all of them.
One man said he honestly wanted to marry Fatima who appeared to be clever, smart and humble. The man said another proposed marriage had fallen through because of his involvement with Fatima.
Fatima, 33, admitted fraud offences and pleaded guilty to further charges of mortgage fraud and insurance fraud relating to a property at Coppice Drive, Netherton, Huddersfield.
The court heard that she gave false details about her employment and income to obtain a £171,000 mortgage on the house, which had been owned by Ali, and she later obtained an insurance pay-out of £25,000 after submitting a bogus burglary claim.
Ali, 45, of Springbank Road, Bradley Mills, Huddersfield, admitted involvement in six of the wedding offences as well as further fraud matters relating to two bogus burglary claims and swindling £36,000 from a man who had thought he was able to buy the Coppice Drive property from him.
Unemployed taxi driver Ali was jailed for 30 months. Fatima, said to be the sole carer of two children, had her 12-month jail term suspended for two years.
When she was arrested at a house in Suffolk Rise, Sheepridge, Huddersfield, officers found a Jaguar car on the drive and a Volvo in the garage.