Con­man stole from pen­sioner to fund his gam­bling habit

Rochdale Observer - - CROOK TRICKS OAP OUT OF £325K SAVINGS - Rochda­le­ob­[email protected]

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’

●●Michael Wood

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