FOUR men who defrauded an elderly woman out of ownership of her house and more than £130,000 over five years have been jailed.
The quartet were sentenced to a combined 13 years for the scam, which saw the victim, aged in her 80s, forced to borrow thousands from a neighbour.
Meanwhile the ill-gotten cash was being spent on luxury goods after being funneled through the account of one of the crooks’ young daughters.
The men – John Paul O’Connor, 36, Roger Knight, 44, Samuel Smith, 40 and John Keenan, 39 – were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.
The victim was first targeted in 2008 when rogue traders said she needed extensive work done to her North London home.
Unable to pay, she was introduced to O’Connor who offered to buy her house so she could pay the scammers.
O’Connor offered to buy the house and complete the work while allowing the victim to stay in the house.
However she was taken to a solicitor who facilitated the sale of the house to O’Connor for a third of its value.
Once the sale was complete, the victim was told to write four cheques totalling £70,000.
These were paid into an account in Knight's name, who withdrew the money once it cleared.
Smith then targeted the victim, falsely claiming the house needed underpinning.
He defrauded her of £28,500 before returning to con her out of a further £8,500.
In 2013, the scammers then told the victim she could buy the property back, forcing her to ask an elderly friend to help fund the purchase.
She transferred £27,000 into an account held by Keenan who immediately dispersed the money.
After police launched their investigation, they found that Keenan had credited his 11-year-old daughter's account with more than £100,000 in cash over an 18-month period.
These funds were spent on luxury goods and living expenses.
O’Connor, of Sevenoaks, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and was sentenced to four years and nine months’ imprisonment.
As part of his plea, he has agreed to sign the house back over to the victim.
Knight, of Meridian Way, Enfield pleaded guilty to money laundering concerned in an arrangement and was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years.
Smith, of Old Bath Road, Charvil, Reading pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation and was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Keenan, of Arrow Close, Luton, Bedfordshire pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering and was sentenced to three years and eight months’ imprisonment.
He was also sentenced to two years and 10 months for a separate incident in 2017 involving two elderly males. His sentences will run consecutively.
Detective Constable Rob Enderby, of the Met’s Criminal Finance Team, said: “This group repeatedly targeted the victim who lived alone and convinced her that she needed work done to her house, causing enormous distress.
“It will be a long time, if ever, that the victim’s faith in others is restored but I hope that the conviction and sentencing of this unscrupulous group will at least help her begin to feel safer.”