A serial conman emptied a 90-year-old man's Post Office account while he was in respite care due to poor health.
Wayne Fada had been a friend of the victim for around a decade and was trusted to help with financial affairs.
But Newcastle Crown Court heard when the pensioner went into care, Fada, who has a string of previous convictions for obtaining by deception, ordered a duplicate Post Office card and emptied the man's account of the £3,108 it contained.
During the four-month respite period, the 32-year-old also helped himself to £930 from the man's Co-op bank account by posing as the pensioner during telephone transactions.
Fada admitted he would usually visit the victim two or three times per week but had had no contact with him between April and August when he committed the fraud while the man was in care.
Fada, of Azalea Terrace South, Sunderland, admitted fraud by false representation between April 14 and August 2.
The court heard the victim, who needed respite care due to illness and infirmity, is now slowly paying off bills he should have had enough money to cover and said he felt "despair and disgust" at what happened to him.
Prosecutor Jolyon Perks told the court: "He said he felt very upset, he had lost a lot of money, he said he believed he had been 'badly done to' but says 'that's life and I'm old'."
Mr Recorder Bernard Gateshill QC sentenced Fada to 16 months behind bars.
The judge told him: "This was a mean offence committed against an elderly and infirm man.
"He was 90 years old.
"Your victim trusted you and you took advantage of a vulnerable person who was elderly and infirm.
"Only a custodial sentence can be imposed for such conduct."
The court heard Fada had helped with the victim's financial affairs during their ten-year friendship without previous problems.
It was when the victim returned home from respite care in August he saw a letter about a replacement Post Office card when he went through his mail.
Mr Perks said: "He was taken by a carer to the Post Office and an inquiry was made.
"The funds in that account were found to be removed in the period during his stay in respite care.
"The funds had been removed by multiple cash withdrawals using a new card that had been ordered by this defendant using the home address of the complainant."
The court heard Fada had obtained a replacement Post Office card by claiming the original had been lost.
When the pensioner checked his Co-op bank account he realised that too had been targeted while he was ill.
Mr Perks said: "An inquiry with the bank found multiple transactions had been made, all by telephone transfer, with the defendant ringing up and pretending to be the complainaint and answering the relevant security questions."
Vic Laffey, defending, said Fada confessed what he had done as soon as he was confronted by the police and had previously been a trusted friend of the victim.
Mr Laffey added: "He was in debt to people he thought would have harmed him and he took the money from this gentleman's account to pay those debts."