Melksham fraudster jailed for a year after admitting 93 offences (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Melksham fraudster jailed for a year after admitting 93 offences
Fraudster Lorraine Banham has been jailed for a year after admitting 93 charges of deception.
Banham, 55, of Byron Close, Melksham, was charged with 19 offences of fraud, bilking, and theft; with a further 74 offences at Winchester Crown Court.
Banham was arrested in June this year, following an appeal to find her on the BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow, after she had failed to return to police on bail. Police received information that she was flying into the UK and she was arrested at the airport.
The court heard she was originally arrested in December 2011 for stealing petrol seven times. She was also arrested again that month in relation to theft of credit and bank cards from a friend.
She failed to return on bail on March 14, leaving a message with her solicitors stating that she was detained in hospital in Nottingham.
Officers later discovered that she was not in hospital. In fact, she had booked a ferry to get to Barcelona in Spain and then onwards to Benidorm to try and avoid the consequences of her actions.
The court was told Banham was a prolific fraudster who used a similar routine in order to de-fraud either elderly or vulnerable people. She would befriend a neighbour and offer to go shopping for them or work as a cleaner. As soon as she had embedded herself into the person’s life, she would begin to take money from them and sometimes personal items from their house.
One woman, who Banham befriended before stealing her bank card and money from her accounts said: “ I look back and I think how stupid I must have been, how gullible, in fact completely groomed by this one individual in my own home, my family and my friends have all been violated and has completely ruined my trust in others. She used me as a smoke screen to carry out her fraudulent activity and I feel that for no fault of my own I am part of this ‘dirty process”
While living at a housing association home in Byron Close Banham made friends with her neighbours and offered to look after their house whilst they were on holiday. Not only did she steal their bank cards and try to steal from their accounts but Banham also tried to rent their property out.
She advertised and showed a single mother around the property before taking from her a £650 deposit. Banham also showed four different sets of people around her own house, a local authority property, before taking deposits from these people to add to the cash she had already taken.
She then booked a ferry and a hotel room, including flowers, wine, and chocolate, on her neighbour’s credit card and disappeared to Spain with all the cash from the deposits from fraudulently trying to rent out her flat and her neighbours house.
One young single mother was left homeless after Banham ran off with her deposit money.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said: “I no longer have a house of my own, £650 took a considerable time to save and now I feel just despondent.
“I don’t know how much longer I can cope. I cannot see any way out of this hole that she has created and was no fault of my own. I thought I had done everything right but instead I am homeless. I just want my money back so at least I have a chance of getting my own place again.”
While at the address in Byron Close, Banham also set up a number of false BT accounts under different names and had numerous catalogue accounts in various names, something she had done before at previous addresses. She has also now admitted to falsifying an application to work for a charity shop, by not declaring her previous convictions and to shoplifting champagne from a local shop.
Sergeant Kerry said: “The judge has had to consider a whopping 93 offences in this case. Lorraine Banham left a trail of destruction behind her, no matter where she lived or worked it appears she could not resist stealing or defrauding people out of money.
This case was a culmination of months of tireless investigation and appeals to find her after she absconded to Spain. She is a very sad woman who cannot be trusted in any aspect of her life.”
Anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud can go to www.actionfraud.police.uk