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Source: United Kingdom London Metropolitan Police

One of four men who defrauded a woman in her eighties, which also involved the purchase of her house, has been ordered to turn over assets to the value of £301,000.

In 2008, the elderly victim, who lived in north London, was targeted by ‘rogue builders’ who stated that she needed lots of work carried out on her house. 

The victim was unable to afford the work and a man was introduced to the victim as someone who could purchase her house and complete the works, whilst allowing the victim to continue living at the premises. 

The victim was taken to a solicitor, who did not act in her best interests, and the house was subsequently sold to this man for less than a third of its market value.

Samuel Smith then targeted the victim, falsely informing her that the property needed underpinning and defrauding the victim out of a further £28,500. He subsequently returned to the property and defrauded her out of another £8,500.

In 2013, the victim was further defrauded when she was informed that she could re-purchase the property. This arrangement forced her to ask an elderly friend to help finance the purchase. 

Police subsequently became aware of the offences and an investigation was launched that resulted in the conviction of Smith and three other men for their role in the crimes.

Samuel Smith, 42 (12.05.78) of Old Bath Road, Charvil, Reading pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation. On 15 June 2018, at Southwark Crown Court, Smith was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. Three other defendants were also sentenced to terms of imprisonment.

Sadly, the elderly victim passed away in July 2018.

However, police were determined to recover as much of the money as possible for the victim’s family and action was taken under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Following prolonged confiscation proceedings, a confiscation order was granted at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, 2 October.

The court found that Smith had benefited from general criminal conduct to the value of £725,638.83.

Available assets of £301,000 were identified as belonging to Smith.

The court has ordered Smith to make the payment of £301,000 with a time limit of three months, if he defaults he will face a further four years in prison.

Part of the confiscated amount is to be paid to the estate of the victim. 

Detective Constable Rob Enderby, of the Met’s Central Specialist Crime, said: “Targeting elderly victims and exploiting their vulnerabilities is a vile crime. As part of the guilty plea in the original case, one of the defendants agreed to sign the house back over to the victim, therefore returning the title to her name. 

“We were also determined recover as much of the unlawfully obtained money as possible from the defendants. We want criminals to know that the Met will do all it can to ensure that they do not benefit from their crimes, to ensure that they are stripped of their assets and ensure that money is restored to those with a genuine right to it. Unfortunately, the elderly victim died weeks after the sentencing of the defendant but, with assets recovered from Smith, money will be passed to her estate and to her surviving family.”

The victim’s nephew, said: “What I find hard to understand is that I was very close to my aunt and yet for all those years knew nothing of what she was going through. I subsequently found out that Rob [DC Enderby] had suggested that she tell her family about the fraud, but she did not. Why she didn’t I just don’t know, perhaps she was too embarrassed about how she had been duped. In the end we only found out when she had passed and we were contacted by Rob. He invited us to New Scotland Yard and told us the whole story, finding out was a complete surprise.

“I also learned how much the police had done to support my aunt. They had installed security cameras, popped round to make sure she was okay and have a cup of tea with her; they even did little repairs while they were visiting. They were determined to get justice for my aunt and worked incredibly hard to get her home back and her money returned. Their care for my aunt and the sheer amount of time they have dedicated to this has been amazing, in fact amazing is probably not a strong enough word. 

“My aunt went through this dreadful experience without the support of her family. I can only say to anyone who is going through this is to talk with your family and don’t keep them in the dark, they will want to help you. People need to be aware that there are people who are looking for vulnerable people to exploit. I would say to anyone who has an elderly friend, relative or neighbour to look out for them and don’t be afraid to ask questions about who is calling on them. People were trying to force my aunt out of a home she had lived in since the 1930s and it was only by a friend calling police that they did not get away with it. If you have suspicions then speak to the police, they were wonderful to my aunt and did all they could to help her.”

MIL Security OSI