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29 July 2014

Frances Harris (1941 - ) fraudster.

Frederick Harris and his wife had three daughters. His sister Pamela died in the 1960s.

For a while Harris owned a bar in Spain with William Coutts as a partner, but they separated on bad terms.

Harris became Frances in the late 1990s with breast augmentation. She used Pamela's passport to illegally claim £27,000 in benefits.

From 2003, Harris indulged in several acts of deception. Reverting to male, she pretended to be Coutts, and thereby was able to get a £15,000 loan from Halifax Bank, and tried to gain a passport under Coutt's name. In her own gender she obtained a Marks & Spencer credit card pretending to be Coutt's daughter, Vanessa. She spent the money on jewellery, a cruise and health spas, and was travelling in a chauffeur-driven Bentley. Coutts and his daughter inevitably noticed irregularities in their bank accounts, and were contacted re loan applications they had hot taken out, and finally contacted the police. Harris was arrested in September 2004. The police searched her home and found a hidden alcove with a passport, a drivers licence and credit cards in the names of the Coutts.

Harris was originally due in court in 2006 but absconded to Spain with two of her daughters and only returned to the UK after one of them unexpectedly died in 2011. While in Spain, Harris took up with a younger couple, Graham Lewis and Rosemary Nye, and they set up Rest Assured Property Services selling timeshare apartments by phone. Around 100 people lost considerable savings.

On return to England, Frances lived in a council flat in Brighton paid for by housing benefit and in receipt of pension credits. Later in 2011 Harris was brought to court re the impersonation of the Coutts and 37 previous convictions were discovered. As the practice at that time was to place a non-operative trans woman in a men's prison, the defence barrister's plea was accepted and Harris was handed a 15-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

A year later Harris, Lewis and Nye were arrested re the timeshare fraud, tried and found guilty. This time Harris was jailed for five years. Lewis was jailed for four-and-a-half years, and Nye was handed a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to carry out unpaid work.

For some reason, The 2013 Daily Mail article does not seem to know about the 2012 Daily Mail article.

If Harris had been imprisoned in 2011, she would have spent most of the time in a women's prison as the New Prison Guidelines came into effect.   Harris was one of the last trans convicts to escape jail in that there was nowhere safe to put her.

None of the newspaper accounts explain why Harris was not extradited back from Spain.   The European Arrest Warrant system has been in place since 2004.

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