Serious Fraud Office raids Dorset property as part of investigation into £76m scam

The Serious Fraud Office has raided a property in Dorset and made two arrests as part of an investigation into a £76m fraud at luxury care homes.

The SFO raided two sites and made three arrests as part  the new investigation.

The raids in St Leonard’s, Dorset and Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire are part of an investigation into the UK registered property developer, the Carlauren Group, which collapsed into administration in November 2019, requiring some elderly residents to vacate their homes and leaving over 600 investors out of pocket.

Over four years, the Carlauren Group purchased 23 properties across the UK, mostly former hotels including the historic Windlestone Hall in Durham, offering an annual 10% return on investment in its renovation of these properties into high-end care homes.

Properties which were marketed by Carlauren included:

  • Shires Care Resort, Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire – now derelict and abandoned
  • Bridlington Care Resort, Bridlington, East Yorkshire – abandoned
  • Hacketts House, Blackpool, Lancashire – boarded up and abandoned
  • King’s bar, Sandown, Isle of Wight – derelict and abandoned
  • Bancourt Hotel, Torquay, Devon – boarded up and abandoned
  • Hurst Manor, Martock, Somerset, – boarded up
  • Lindors Country House, Lydney, Gloucestershire – operating as a regular hotel

Only nine of the properties were ever operational and some continued to be run as hotels, instead of homes.

The group also purchased a number of vehicles purportedly for the company including two Lamborghinis, a Mclaren 570GT, a private jet and two yachts.

Over 600 people and companies invested in the scheme via purchase of rooms, that were to be rented out to elderly residents, in facilities that boasted of swimming pools, room service and other luxury amenities.

Rooms were advertised widely and sold with a guaranteed annual payout and the opportunity to resell the asset back with up to a 25% profit after 10 years.

This is the fifth new investigation launched since director Nick Ephgrave joined the UK’s specialist anti-fraud agency in September.

The SFO operation was supported by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Nick Ephgrave said: “This company’s abrupt collapse has created turmoil and enormous anxiety for many, with elderly people forced to vacate their homes and investors left with nothing.

“Today’s arrests are a major development in our investigation and a step towards getting the answers so many people need.”