Conman stole from pensioner to fund his gambling habit
AMAN who manipulated a pensioner into thinking he was a ‘trusted friend’ before stealing and gambling away his life savings has been jailed.
As well as online gambling, jobless Michael Wood, also blew cash on expensive jewellery including an engagement ring and a lavish holiday for his partner.
A court heard how the 51-year-old moved to Rochdale in 2013, where he befriended his victim - a man in his 70s - convincing him that he was a ‘trusted’ friend.
Shortly after, he offered to carry out building work on the man’s house, but that was merely a ruse to get the elderly man to part with his life savings.
Wood told the pensioner he was project managing the renovation works and needed access to his bank account so he could pay for the work.
Between June 2013 and December 2016, nearly £325,000 was transferred to Wood’s accounts despite very little building work being done.
When the money was gone, Wood persuaded the victim to take out numerous personal loans and credit cards, and an equity loan on his house.
He told him the money would be invested in building work, as well as the purchase of a holiday home.
But, in reality, Wood was using the money to fund an online gambling habit.
Over the three-year period, Wood – who was unemployed for the most part – gambled away more than £830,000 with online bookmakers and casinos. This figure includes winnings that were re-gambled.
He also used his victim’s credit cards to purchase luxury holidays and an engagement ring for this partner Nicola Johnson, who also received funds from the victim’s bank accounts to a sum of £7,562. Both Wood, and Johnson, 53, also of Shelfield Lane, Norden, were sentenced at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.
Wood was jailed for four years and six months for fraud by false representation and Johnson was given eight months which will be suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service for money laundering.
Det Con Andy Devonshire, of GMP’s Specialist Fraud Investigating Unit, said: “This man worked hard throughout his life to set himself up for retirement, but Wood has completely taken away any possibility of him being able to enjoy a comfortable future.
“It is despicable that Wood has taken advantage of him in this way to fund his own gambling habits and to purchase luxury items.
“We welcome the sentence today and I hope it shows that offenders who commit crimes like this will be caught and made to face the consequences of their actions.”
‘It is despicable that Wood has taken advantage of him in this way’