A teenage fraudster scammed thousands of pounds from a vulnerable pensioner in Medway has been jailed.
Benjamin Lee was involved in a plot to steal money from an 85-year-old woman, knowing she had previously already lost large sums of money to rogue traders.
On 18 July 2019 the victim was visited at her home in Gillingham by an unknown cold caller, who claimed he worked for the police and who told her she could be entitled to compensation in relation to these previous offences. At the same time the victim received a phone call from another man who instructed her she needed to pay ‘court fees’ as part of an investigation, promising she would receive the compensation once the case was concluded.
Lee then arrived at the address, under the guise of a courier. After taking £600 from the victim he instructed her to drive to a bank in Chatham to withdraw another £2,400. The victim received further phone calls from bogus police the following day, demanding more money. When she protested she was threatened with arrest. Lee then returned to her home and directed her to drive to several locations to make cash withdrawals, including a post office, bureau de change and a bank in Strood.
The bank reported the suspicious activity and an investigation was launched by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate. A media appeal was issued with a CCTV image, which led to Lee being identified by another victim, who recognised him as someone who had visited her home between August and September 2019. During this time he was paid several thousand pounds for landscaping works to a garden in Chatham, but the work was never carried out.
Lee aged 18, of Flanagan Avenue, Queenborough, was arrested on 8 November and charged with two counts of fraud by false representation. Appearing before Maidstone Crown Court he pleaded guilty to both offences. On Tuesday 14 January 2020 he was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment at a young offenders’ institution.
Following the sentence, Kent Police made an application for a confiscation order under The Proceeds of Crime Act. This will be used to claim back any money that Lee has benefited from his offences.
Sergeant Marc Cananur of the Serious Economic Crime Unit said: ‘Lee was involved in a callous scam which very deliberately targeted an elderly and vulnerable woman. He used the knowledge of previous crimes carried out against her to ensure she suffered even further misery and distress, stealing a total of almost £14,000. The impact of this type of crime cannot be understated. It is simply devastating to victims, who have not only suffered a significant financial loss, but also have to endure the stress and upset of being targeted in such a shocking way. Remember, a police force will never ask a member of the public for money or any of their bank details, either over the phone or in person. If you receive a phone call like this, or have any doubts about a person visiting your home always call 999.’