Handbag designer Elle Tyree accused of £300,000 con

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The boss of a designer brand whose handbags featured at London Fashion Week is accused of swindling investors out of £300,000 to fund her lifestyle.

Elle Tyree, 32, was behind Sophia Beckford, which launched its first collection of bags at the 2014 showcase. 

However, Inner London crown court heard that between 2015 and 2016 she conned investor Churchside Estates Ltd out of £133,481.

It is said she went to the firm after telling it she had an order for handbags from a US department store chain.

Oliver Newman, prosecuting, said Tyree arranged for the investment to be directed to her bank account rather than manufacturer Verniri, based abroad.

She is also alleged to have produced fake invoices for tens of thousands of pounds of business with fraudulent HSBC bank statements to make her firm seem more successful than it was and dupe her second alleged victim, Corporate Commercial Collections Ltd, into handing over £187,159.

Mr Newman told the court: “Money that Churchside Estates believed they were paying to go to a manufacturer to manufacture handbags in a deal which would end in them getting paid and everyone sharing the profits, actually ended up in them paying money which was going into the accounts of Ms Tyree, which would be spent by her.”

He added: “The HSBC bank statements were fraudulently manufactured because the real statements [found after a police search at her flat] are completely different and bare no realistic comparison.”

He said Tyree did make an order for 14 handbags to be manufactured for £2,897.31, but that the rest of the money was “disseminated across a number of accounts and goes on rent, is withdrawn in cash payments and it disappears and goes out in bits and pieces”.

US-born Tyree, who lived in a block of Thames-side flats overlooking the Tower of London, is charged with two counts of fraud, one between December 2015 and July 2016 and one between July and August 2016. She denies both. The trial continues.

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