A FRAUDSTER conned £3,000 out of a trusting pensioner by claiming he could fix the OAP’s incurable condition.
Richard Pearson found out his 73-year-old victim suffered from tinnitus – a persistent and painful ringing in the ears – during a chance meeting on a bus and convinced him he knew of a clinic that could cure it.
Within days, Pearson claimed to have set up an appointment at a centre in Birmingham and made sure the pensioner was present when he posted a £3,000 cheque he claimed would secure the “alternative” treatment.
The pensioner was persuaded to pay Pearson back in cash – and handed over £3,000 after the conman escorted him to the building society.
Older peoples’ charities today described the case as “truly shocking” and warned pensioners to be careful about handing over any money.
Pearson made his claims more convincing by telling the sufferer he had previously been cured by the clinic. He also wrote out a £3,000 cheque as “compensation” in case things went wrong.
It was when the 53-year-old backed out of his offer of giving the pensioner a lift to his appointment concerns started to grow. He then realised the promise of a cure had been a con and the clinic never actually existed.
The £3,000 compensation cheque bounced when the pensioner tried to cash it and get his money back. At Newcastle Crown Court this week, prosecutor Mark Guiliani said: “It was totally disgraceful conduct, targeting a vulnerable man.
“There is no cure but the clinic, he said, offered alternative treatment, the victim no doubt having been told by his doctor it was an incurable condition one learns to live with.
“He is a confidence trickster, the offending against a 73-year-old man was particularly sophisticated.
“The clinic, despite efforts by the police to locate it, does not exist.”
The case had previously been adjourned after Pearson promised to repay the money back to his victim, but Mr Guiliani said: “Not a penny has been forthcoming.”
Alan Patchett, director of Age Concern Sunderland, today condemned the cruel crime.
He said: “This is a shocking case that serves to illustrate to older people that they have to be very careful who they deal with.
“We would urge them never to hand over cash for any promised service.”
The con took place just weeks after Pearson cost a hire company more than £4,000 by failing to return machinery he had leased.
Pearson, of Hendon Dock, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay the victim’s £3,000 back to him within the next 12 months.
He had admitted theft and fraud charges.
Mr Recorder Euan Duff said: “This offence was a particularly unpleasant and a particularly mean offence, targeting this man in this way.
“It was a quite determined effort, you pursuing him, going to his home and getting the money in that way.”
Lewis Kerr, defending, said the offence was not pre-planned and said Pearson is a former business owner who is hoping to start afresh.
Mr Kerr said: “He had never met the victim, there was nothing more than a chance encounter, an opportunity the defendant seized and pursued, with some determination, I accept.”
•Any older people with concerns over companies and businesses asking for cash can contact trading standards or Age Concern on 514 1131.