A TRUST FUND a dying mother set aside for the care of her Down’s Syndrome daughter was fleeced by a conman who had posed as a friend of the family.

Widower Trevor Lazaro has described how David Reid groomed his family for several years, knowing that his wife Linda was dying of cancer – and that she had a large insurance policy.

He transferred the £300,000 discretionary trust will to Mr Reid, whom he had considered a close friend and confidante, believing it was being placed in a secure account  - only to lose it all.

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Mr Lazaro said: “He was very clever. He is a very affable chap. He was extremely credible, but very calculated.

“Most of the money was left for the long-term care of my eldest daughter who has Down’s Syndrome. That is now gone.”

Mr Lazaro of Burnope, County Durham, said: “We became friends several years ago, shortly after my wife Linda had been diagnosed with cancer.

“Every time we met David would put arm around and kiss me and ask “how you doing brother?”. I had no reason to disbelieve him.

“Shortly before Linda died, David became almost a shadow to our family wanting to know how things were.

“The reality, I know now, is that he had been grooming us for a number of years, knowing all along that Linda was terminal case and that there was never going to a chance of a recovery.”

He added: “David approached me very quickly after her wake and offered to help with the probate.

“He knew there was £300,000 life insurance and the money was there to be had.

“I accepted his help. For all intents and purposes David had sold himself to me as a financial advisor and solicitor (which he was not).

“He was expediting his plan to the very end. The weekend he knew the money was going to be transferred to me, he badgered me consistently on the phone to transfer the money to him.

“He always used the premise we need to ring-fence the money. The will was written as a discretionary trust will which means her estate couldn’t be touched, even by me as a trustee.”

Reid went to the lengths of getting one of trustees to agree to sign his rights over to him.

Mr Lazaro said: “I now know that the paperwork for the discretionary will account was forged. The money never went anywhere other than into his own account.”

Mr Lazaro said if anything happened to him the money would have been used by his son and younger daughter Yasmin to look after their older sister. He added: “He (Reid) has shown no remorse for what he has done.”