Fraudsters jailed after stealing thousands

A 60-year-old woman from Folkestone, who was defrauded by cold callers, has seen two people jailed for up to three years.

The victim had tens of thousands of pounds taken from her account under false pretences by people she believed were carrying out legitimate work to her house.

The court heard how between March and August 2016 the victim had been approached by Walter Smith, 32, of Willow Drive in Romney Marsh and Darren Cherry, 36, of Lower Addiscombe Road in Croydon, whilst she was watering the plants in her front garden. The pair offered to jet wash her drive and a cost was agreed.

She was then told her roof needed repairs and she was quoted several thousand pounds for the job to be completed. Again, she agreed and was persuaded to pay up front.

Money drained from account

Over the next few months the victim, who was often housebound, trusted them and provided them with her bank card and PIN so that they could purchase all the materials they needed. But instead of buying tools and completing the work they were buying personal items for themselves including clothes, alcohol, fishing equipment, electricals and even a car.

The woman only noticed something was wrong when her bank card stopped working and her account was overdrawn. When she called the men to ask where all her money had gone, she didn’t hear from them again and reported the incident to Kent Police.

A number of enquiries followed, which included the review of all the financial transactions that had taken place. A warrant was carried out at Smith’s house on 16 October 2016 where officers found and seized the car that was paid for with the victim’s cash.

Sentenced

Smith and Cherry were charged with fraud. Both of them pleaded guilty. Smith was sentenced to three years and Cherry received a two-year prison sentence at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday 15 December 2017.
Investigating officer DC Darren Brough said: ‘These people took advantage of a very vulnerable woman who trusted them to carry out work on her house. She had no idea her money was being stolen. They had been using her card to buy all sorts of things including phones, sportswear and a roof rack. They even used her money to pay for sign writing on one of their vehicles.

‘I’m just glad they’ve received time in prison for their deceitful behaviour, which has sadly left their victim feeling angry, upset and betrayed.

‘Whilst some people who call at your home will be genuine, sometimes people can trick their way in and be very persuasive in getting you to part with your cash. If you are in any doubt, don’t agree to services or goods from doorstep callers.’

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