A motor dealer ripped off the £25,000 life savings of a 75-year-old Bridlington pensioner after he encouraged him to be his sleeping business partner.
Stephen Johnson, 53, was bankrupt and had already conned three other elderly people when he encouraged the pensioner into lending him money to invest in Clough Road Car Sales in Hull.
The Bridlington man had gone to Johnson’s show room after his niece had just bought a car and decided to look at a Volkswagen Passatt.
The fraud victim told Johnson he had been in the motor trade and realised he had known his father. Johnson claimed he had cash flow problems. The victim, who had been in the motor trade, agreed to loan him £2,200. It was the first of a series of loans for which he failed to pay back, Hull Crown Court heard (Monday June 15). He faces having to sue him. The pensioner now has debt relief and fears being forced into bankruptcy.
Crown barrister Stephen Welch said the pensioner believed he was investing in stock but the reality was Johnson was using it to pay off debts in his business. He also said the victim was fobbed off with the excuse that Johnson had the money, but it was in a shared account with his mother. An agreement was made when the debt got to £10,500 for Johnson to repay the money, but he never told his victim he was bankrupt.
Defence barrister Paul Norton said Johnson was given a 20-month suspended prison sentence in May 2014 and had the judge known about this sleeping partner fraud he may not have given him much more. “He manipulated him to believe he had the adequate funds in his mother’s account to cover the debt. When he didn’t, he pleaded guilty,” said Mr Norton.
Sentencing Recorder Sarah Mallett said: “I am satisfied if the court had known about this other case of fraud, a custodial sentence would have been passed.” She jailed Johnson for 32 months.