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Doorstep conman jailed for duping vulnerable householders in Tantobie and Chester-le-Street
A DOORSTEP conman who targeted vulnerable householders for easy pickings was jailed for 16 weeks.
Alexander Johnson called at the home of a man suffering health and learning difficulties, in Tantobie, near Stanley, threatening him with court action for benefit fraud.
Durham Crown Court was told Johnson must have been aware the victim was recently prosecuted for failing to declare money left to him in a will.
Oliver Thorne, prosecuting, said Johnson initially said his “boss” from the Benefits Agency wanted £10,000 from the victim.
But, having been given £515, he laughed when asked who it was for, and replied: “The benefit lot”.
Although by this stage the victim realised he had been duped, Johnson refused to return the money and left the terraced bungalow.
Mr Thorne said later the same day, Thursday August 8, Johnson visited the home of an 82-year-old Chester-le-Street woman, who suffers Alzheimer’s disease, offering to clean and weed the drive.
The victim, while not able to fully recall events due to her condition, believes he was given money from a cash box, having quoted her a charge of £200 to do the work.
He left without doing any work, but was subsequently arrested and admitted having no intention to carry out any of the tasks he was offering to perform.
Mr Thorne said Johnson has 46 convictions for 98 offences, including a number for theft and similar “confidence fraud”.
Thirty-year-old Johnson, of Fen Road, Cambridge, said to be originally from the North-East, admitted two charges of fraud by false representation.
Nigel Edwards, mitigating, said: “Quite clearly other, more criminally sophisticated individuals, were involved in this.
“The defendant had just come back to the North-East to see his family. He was picked up by close friends and the view was taken they would go and do a couple of ‘jobs’.
“It was, no doubt, planned, but not by this defendant. However, he wholeheartedly accepts his guilt.”
Mr Edwards added that Johnson denies having at any stage gone into the home of the woman in the second offence, with the 'transaction' merely discussed outside the property.
Jailing him, Recorder Toby Hedworth told Johnson: “You answer for two extremely unpleasant offences of confidence fraud involving targeting of vulnerable victims.
“But, I accept you were in the company of others who must have given you information.”
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