Mum stole neighbours’ identities to fund shopping sprees

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A MOTHER stole her neighbours’ identities to go on shopping sprees totalling thousands of pounds.

Fraudster Gemma Errington used more than 25 names to set up a series of catalogue accounts and ordered £7,251-worth of goods.

One 29-year-old victim said she was put through “hell” by Errington’s deception.

Accounts manager Jemma Potts was refused a remortgage and a loan to repair her roof because of the unusual activity on her credit rating.

She said: “I was getting about seven credit applications a day. I don’t even have a credit card.

She added: “I have not got loans, but she had literally applied for everything in my name.

“I had 12 months of absolute hell. I have just got my credit rating sorted out and it has been a year.

“I would like to think I could speak to her face to face and tell her what she has put me through, because this last year has been hell.

“My roof was dropping to bits and I could not get a loan to cover it and the amount of calls I had to make to get my name cleared.

“If I saw her I would not lower myself. I pity her.”

At Newcastle Crown Court, Errington, of Wellington Row, Houghton, admitted two charges of fraud and asked for five similar offences to be taken into consideration.

Judge John Milford sentenced the 28-year-old, who has no previous convictions, to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with supervision.

The judge said sending Errington to jail immediately would be a “human rights issue” as she has a young child with cerebral palsy and other difficulties.

Judge Milford said: “To deprive that child of her mother at this stage of her life would, I think, give rise to a human rights issue.”

Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court the police became involved last summer when Errington’s neighbours started to receive documentation for accounts with Next and Shop Direct, which they had never asked for.

Inquiries revealed they had been set up by Errington, who had ordered goods from some of the accounts and changed the delivery address to her own.

Mr Bunch said: “The effect is perhaps noted in the statement of her next-door neighbour.

“She outlines in her statement the effect that the actions of the defendant have had upon her credit record in that her credit score has been affected by the number of accounts taken out in her name.”

Judge Milford said the victim’s credit score could be corrected by a letter from the Crown Prosecution Service outlining the details of the fraud.

Bob Spragg, defending, said Errington is “working hard” to keep her life in order.

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