Bexhill mum made £1.5m running escort agency while claiming benefits

Janine Adeleke Picture courtesy of SWNS.com
Janine Adeleke Picture courtesy of SWNS.com

A mum-of-five made £1.5m running a high-class escort agency while claiming £117,000 in benefits and tax credits, a court heard.

Janine Adeleke, 42, ran Carlton’s Of London from her Bexhill home and had ex-TOWIE star Maria Fowler as one of her escorts.

Yet all the while she was claiming state handouts while her family had private medical insurance and membership to the David Lloyd gym, a court heard.

One of her children was also sent to the exclusive Roedean boarding school for girls, Canterbury Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Allastair Walker said that for eight years between November, 2006, and October last year Adeleke failed to disclose significant income – much of it coming from the escort business.

He said: “During this period she claimed state benefits including Income Support, Council Tax benefit and carer’s allowance.”

The jury heard that in July, 2011, when she suspected that Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) investigators were on her trail, she laundered receipts through accounts in the name of her elderly and frail mother.

He added: “Over the years, the defendant received nearly £1.5m of undeclared income.

“At least £650,000 should have been declared to revenue and customs.”

He said that Adeleke should have paid £25,000 in revenue but she was claiming benefits of £37,000 and tax credits of £80,000.

Mr Walker added: “Overall losses to the state are in excess of £350,000.”

Adeleke was convicted on seven counts of cheating the revenue, fraud and money laundering.

She had pleaded not guilty.

The prosecutor told how Adeleke had been married but separated from her husband in 2006.

He said: “There followed a traumatic and bitter divorce and there can be little doubt that as a consequence the defendant was left much less comfortably off.

“It is the Crown’s case that while claiming benefits she came to run a successful and expensive escort agency which boasted: ‘VIP Models of poise, sophistication and stunning good looks for elite gentlemen.’

“The profits she made from this she never declared.”

He revealed that while living in Bexhill, she opened a business bank account in Chelmsford, Essex, for the agency profits.

Mr Walker also said when investigators raided her home they discovered an £8,000 contract between a national Sunday newspaper and a former escort worker who appeared on The Only Way Is Essex.

He said: “This was only the tip of the iceberg and as the money poured in the agency took a 35 per cent cut from its workers who were charging between £200 and £2,000 an hour.

“Over the period a sum around £1.5m had entered her accounts, including ones associated with Carlton’s.

“When she was arrested she denied running the business and gave ‘a rambling and convoluted’ account of how an ex-boyfriend had been helping her.”

She was granted bail until her sentencing hearing in November.

In 2011 it was revealed that The Only Way is Essex star Maria Fowler worked for the agency since 2009 using the name Kelly.

Her spokesman at the time insisted she had not had sex with any of her clients.

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