Woman and husband jailed after they scammed £624k from council

Fraudster who appeared on ITV’s This Morning to claim she had dementia is jailed along with her husband after they scammed £624,000 from council by pretending her mother was bed-bound and unable to feed herself due to a brain disorder

  • Laura and husband Philip Borrell, both 45, were jailed for money laundering
  • Frances Noble, Laura’s mother, pretended she was bed-bound and unable to feed herself for 11 years, scamming Herts County Council out of £624,047.50
  • The couple pretended to work as her carers and used money to fund holidays 
  • They also appeared on ITV’s This Morning claiming Laura had dementia aged 39 

A couple who enjoyed holidays abroad with some of the money from a relative who faked a neurological condition to scam a local authority out of more than £624,000 have been jailed. 

Laura Borrell and her husband Philip Borrell, both 45, lived the high life by pretending to work as carers for her mother Frances Noble, 66, who was falsely claiming that she was bed-bound and needed round the clock care.

Due to the fake condition, Noble was granted a ‘direct payment care package’ which allows people with disabilities, or their family members and friends, to choose carers and equipment and settle bills.

They were caught out after several instances of Noble being seen walking about, in one case taking and unpacking a shopping delivery.

The Borrells also appeared on ITV’s This Morning in 2017 to tell Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby that Laura was one of the youngest people ever to have dementia – for which the couple also set up an online fundraiser.

Through her lawyer Laura denied any wrongdoing in relation to her dementia diagnosis.

Judge Richard Foster, sentencing at St Albans Crown Court today, told the pair that they were ‘held out at times as carers when clearly you were not’.

He noted that Mrs Borrell had made a claim for state benefits to assist with her own personal care needs and so on that basis was ‘a person in need of care and not capable of providing care’.

Today Laura Borrell was jailed for 3 years 9 months and Philip Borrell for 4 years 3 months.

Last month Noble, 66, was jailed for 4 years 9 months in her absence in what the judge said was possibly the largest fraud of its type to come before the English courts. 

Laura Borrell, 45, and son-in-law Phillip Borrell, 45, were both jailed today for money laundering offences after pretending to be employed as carers by Laura’s mother Frances Noble 

Frances Noble, 66, was jailed five years after she and her family faked a neurological condition for 11 years to scam Hertfordshire County Council out of more than £624,000 over 11 years. Pictured left, with daughter, Laura Borrell

Laura and Phillip both appeared on ITV’s this morning in 2017, claiming Laura was one of the youngest people to be diagnosed with dementia

Noble of Damask Green Road, Weston, Hertfordshire who had been living in Berlin since 2019, did not appear for her sentencing hearing in June having earlier pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation.

She had moved to Germany with her daughter and son-in-law after the investigation began. A warrant has been issued for her arrest and extradition.

Laura Borrell and Philip Borrell, both 45, also of Damask Green Road, Weston, each pleaded guilty to money laundering. They both accepted receiving £184,205. Mrs Borrell accepted receiving another £39,700 and Mr Borrell £6,218.

St Albans Crown Court heard tens of thousands of pounds of money from the council, intended to help care for Noble, was passed onto her daughter and son-in-law, who went on luxury North American holidays in Canada, San Francisco, Boston and Orlando. 

Between 2005 and 2018, Noble convinced the council that her condition was so serious that she required intensive round the clock home care at her bungalow in Datchworth near Stevenage.

But she was seen by her neighbours walking her dog Bertie early in the morning and videoed by one as she walked around her back garden. Investigators watched as she took in a Tesco home delivery which she was able to unpack.

Prosecutor Andrew Johnson said when one neighbour saw Noble in her back garden she pulled a hood over her face and said: ‘I am not Frances. I am her carer.’

Mr Johnson said over a 13-year period, between August 1 2005 and November 30 2018, Frances Noble had obtained £624,047.15p.

On one occasion supposedly bed-ridden Noble was seen being pushed in a wheelchair by her daughter around the Bluewater Shopping Centre. Noble, who had claimed she had been on a liquid diet, was filmed eating with her daughter in a restaurant.

On another occasion a care worker turned up at her home to find her standing up, naked in the bathroom, washing her hair.

Laura and Phillip Borrell both accepted to receiving £184,205 and were each jailed for several years

The judge described the couple’s crimes as of a ‘sophisticated nature’ and said they were carried out over a sustained period of time

During this 11-year period, Noble received £624,047.50 from Hertfordshire County Council (pictured)

The money went into a single bank account, that should solely be for the purpose of direct payment to carers. On the most generous definition less that £100,000 was spent on care, said Mr Johnson.

He said: ‘Funds that were paid to her were funds that would have been used to support the residents of Hertfordshire.’

Noble had ‘dishonestly and deliberately’ lied to social workers.

Mr Johnson said: ‘The central lie was the suggestion that she was bed-bound for a very significant period.

‘But it is quite plain, she was simply not bed-bound. She misled the local council and many others, including her treating doctor.

‘She claimed a variety of people were carers when they did nothing. She sent a number of emails from carers. Those emails had nothing to do with them (the carers) they were fake emails.

‘She spun a web of lies to everyone she came into contact.’

One social worker said it was unusual for a person who had been bed ridden for many years not to have deteriorated because of her inability to move.

When neighbours reported her, Noble claimed to her Housing Association and the police that she had been the victim of harassment and hate crimes. She even persuaded the Housing Association to raise the height of her fence to prevent her being caught out again.

The investigators also found a video she made inside her home in June 2013. She was walking around and filmed herself in a mirror.

When Judge Richard Foster jailed her, he said: ‘This is possibly the largest fraud of its type to come before the English courts.

He described their crimes as of a ‘sophisticated nature’ and carried out over a sustained period of time.

He told the couple: ‘There was evidence of an extravagant lifestyle.

‘You both enjoyed holiday trips to variously Boston, San Francisco as well as to Canada in the period 2011 to 2017.

‘You, Philip Borrell, had a good salary but this was subsidised by your use of this criminal money.’

He worked as a software project manager but was frequently travelling with his wife, the court heard.

The judge told Philip Borrell that he had chosen to ‘ignore your suspicions as to the source of the monies, that source being a fraud on Hertfordshire County Council, on a massive scale’.

The cost of social care as ‘an enormous burden’ on the taxpayer in a nation with an ageing population, according to the judge.

The judge added: ‘Those taxpayers are victims of this fraud, some of the proceeds which you used for your own benefit.’

The court has previously heard that from 2005 Noble received £702,905 from the council, but the offence she admitted only came into existence in January 2007, and so she was only indicted on monies received over this later period.

A proceeds of crime hearing will be at a later date.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: ‘Mrs Noble, her daughter and her son-in-law undertook a sophisticated and devious fraud that shamelessly sought to deceive health and social services professionals over a sustained period of time. We are pleased to see a custodial sentence handed down to Mrs Noble reflecting the seriousness of her offences.

‘The trio’s offences were planned, calculated and carried out with the intention of abusing a care system designed first and foremost to meet the requirements of those in need of support.

‘We will now be using the Proceeds of Crime Act and other civil recovery methods – including the forced sale of the Borrell’s home – to attempt to recover every penny defrauded so that it can go towards supporting those that genuinely need our help.’

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