Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 15:50 UK

Woman fraudster returns from US

(L-R) Stepfather Len Forrester, Chantal McCorkle and her mother Diane Forrester
McCorkle's family are delighted she is back in the UK

A woman jailed for 24 years in the US for fraud, conspiracy and money-laundering has been returned to the UK.

Chantal McCorkle, 41, from Slough, Berkshire, was convicted by a Florida court in 1998.

She and husband William had made television commercials using actors posing as satisfied customers to promote their property advice business.

McCorkle is now being held at Holloway Prison in north London. Her family hopes she will be freed within a year.

Stepfather Len Forrester said: "We are delighted."

Mr Forrester, McCorkle's mother Diane and her younger sister Kerry, visited her in prison on Friday.

She still has that sparkle in her eyes
Stepfather Len Forrester

She will be based there until she is transferred to another jail.

Her transfer from the US came after she won an appeal to be allowed finish her sentence in the UK.

Mr Forrester added: "She arrived last Wednesday morning after an overnight flight.

"[My wife] Diane was very tearful. Chantal looked very good, she still has that sparkle in her eyes.

"We are both so delighted [and] there has been a lot of excitement in the family because they can go to see her now, but she is still incarcerated."

'Extreme sentence'

The McCorkles' business was investigated by police after customers complained about the couple's tapes and courses on how to make money buying and selling repossessed property.

Police discovered the McCorkles had hired a Florida mansion and private planes to "emulate a luxurious lifestyle" and used actors to pose as satisfied customers.

William McCorkle admitted full responsibility, saying his wife's role was minimal.

Chantal McCorkle
McCorkle is now in Holloway Prison in north London

Her jailing was branded "vastly excessive" by human rights campaigners, who highlighted the fact that all the swindled money was repaid.

McCorkle's sentence was eventually cut from 24 years to 18 years in 2006.

She has apologised for her crimes, which is thought to be a factor in the US authorities agreeing to her transfer.

Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart, who was at the forefront of the campaign for McCorkle to serve a shortened jail term in the UK, said: "I do think the sentence was extreme for that kind of offence.

"And it was made more extreme because it had to be served in America."

The UK Ministry of Justice said it did not comment on individual cases.

The US Department of Justice is yet to comment on the reasons for McCorkle's transfer.



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