THREE people have appeared before York magistrates accused of carrying out a £30 million fraud using fake government websites.

Collette Maria Ferrow, Claire Michael Hall and Peter Anthony Hall are alleged to have run websites designed to look as though they were official Government websites and to have used them to persuade people to hand over money they did not need to for Government services.

The prosecution allege these included websites offering new passports, visas, European health insurance cards, driving licences and car tax discs.

They are also alleged to have misled the public over booking driving tests and MOT tests and the payment of the London congestion charge, payable by every car that travels within central London.

None of the defendants entered any pleas at the brief hearing. Denise Breen-Lawton, appearing on behalf of the York-based national electronic crime trading standards squad, told magistrates the charges of conspiracy against the defendants could only be tried by a judge and jury , with which all the defence lawyers agreed.

Magistrates sent all the charges against all the defendants to York Crown Court, where they will appear on February 6 for a preliminary hearing.

Claire Hall, 39, and Peter Hall, 44, both of Homestead Road, Medstead, Alton, Hampshire, are alleged to set up and run fake websites. Ferrow, 39, of Longmead, Liss, Hampshire, is alleged to be employed by the other two and to have been involved in a fake DVLA website.

All three face a charge of conspiracy to defraud the public by deliberately designing and operating websites so that they wrongly appeared to be run by Government agencies or departments and other public bodies between March 22, 2012 and August 8, 2014.

They also jointly face a charge that they conspired together to launder criminal proceeds or property. and a charge of using the DVLA acronym illegally.

In addition, the Halls each face 20 charges alleging they engaged in misleading commercial practice by operating websites that contained false information or misleading omissions, including hiding the true identity of the websites' operators and how the prices they offered were calculated.

All three were released on unconditional bail.