A CRUEL conman cheated a vulnerable former work colleague out of more than £4,000 – after already having a county court judgement against him over money he had borrowed and not repaid.
Stephen Thompson, who used the money to fund his gambling addiction, initially denied defrauding the Coventry man, claiming he was going to pay him back from winnings.
But on the day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court, Thompson, 29, of Wheelers Lane, Kings Heath, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to six charges of fraud.
Thompson, whose previous convictions included one for money-laundering, was jailed for 16 months and ordered to pay £3,690 compensation to his victim.
Prosecutor Chloe Ashley said Thompson and his victim, who lives in Coventry, had previously worked together – until Thompson had been sacked.
Although very intelligent, the victim suffers from Asperger’s syndrome and has difficulty understanding non-verbal communication, making him ‘ill-equipped to cope with people who try to use him for their own ends.’
Thompson had persuaded him to lend him £10,500 towards the purchase and repair of cars to then sell for a profit.
But none of the money was repaid and, with the assistance of his family, the victim obtained a county court judgement to recover the money through an attachment of earnings order.
But, following Thompson’s dismissal, that sum remained unpaid, said Miss Ashley.
In November 2016 Thompson told the victim he was going to sell his car to repay what he had borrowed.
They went to see an accomplice posing as the buyer, who later claimed he had paid £15,400 into the victim’s account.
Thompson then said that meant the victim would have more than he was owed – and persuaded him to transfer £3,500 from his account into Thompson’s.
The victim was taken to Thompson’s home for the night after his phone had been taken from him and the sim card removed, causing his mother concern when she was unable to contact him.
He was taken to cashpoints where he was persuaded to withdraw £420 which was handed to Thompson, and to buy £190 worth of scratch cards, from which Thompson kept the winnings.
After the offences came to light, Thompson was traced, and when he was arrested he told the police he had a bad gambling habit and had lost everything.
He claimed he had not put pressure on his victim, but has asked him to invest in buying and selling cars, and that he was going to repay him from gambling, added Miss Ashley.
Gerard Cullen, defending, said Thompson, who was unaware of his victim’s vulnerability, ‘sought solace in a gambling habit’ at the time, having lost his job and a relationship having ended.
But he was now attending Gamblers Anonymous and working again, and had got together some money, and could pay compensation if he was given a suspended sentence.
But Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed that if he already had the money, he could pay compensation even if he received an immediate sentence.
Jailing Thompson, the judge told him: “Through quite a complex web of deception you persuaded him it was necessary for you to be provided by him with a sum of £3,500 and later you persuaded him to take more money out of ATM machines and to purchase scratch cards.
“Your gambling addiction drove you to behave in this way, and you are doing something about it. But you are a man who, in my view, has offended in a sustained manner.”