Conman used stolen identity to buy £29,000 Rolex watch and went into bank claiming to be hostage
A conman walked into a city centre bank and told staff he was a hostage who had been forced to commit fraud.
Tremayne Williams went into the NatWest branch in Newcastle in November last year and told the bank teller he had been ordered to fraudulently withdraw cash from a business account.
Police initially treated him as a victim of crime, but soon found he had a Sunderland University’s student’s passport stolen in a burglary and he had stolen the identity of a man from Chester-le-Street.
Prosecutors said Williams had previous convictions for fraud and the passport and other items found at his home would have allowed him to commit "multiple frauds".
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 42-year-old fraudster told staff at the bank that "two men were waiting outside" and he "needed help".
Williams was offered help by the police, who later found out he had used a stolen identity, of a man from the Chester-le-Street area to try and buy a Rolex watch worth over £29,000.
The court heard Williams had taken an American Express card out using the victim's details and splashed out on over £2,000 worth of property before trying to make the £29,350 purchase, which was declined.
When police searched his home they found eight bank and credit cards, two identity cards, four driving licences, two card readers, two chip and pin readers and a passport belonging to a Sunderland University student that had been stolen during a break-in.
Prosecutor Rupert Doswell Newcastle Crown Court: "Initially he was treated as a victim of crime rather than a suspect.
"Police informed him, in order to safeguard him, that they needed to know if he was being threatened and if he had been drawn into something.
"At that point the defendant stated he had made money from them, he said 'I've made £15,000 but they have taken that'."
Williams, who has previous convictions for fraud offences, told police the criminal gang had been "threatening and harassing" him and that they were "dangerous people".
Mr Doswell said the items found at Williams' home would have allowed him to commit "multiple frauds".
Prosecutors do not accept Williams was a "hostage" as he stated but accept "some pressure" may have been applied to him by others.
Williams, of High Quay, Newcastle, admitted two offences of fraud, one of making articles for use in fraud, handling stolen goods and possessing articles for use in fraud.
Mr Justice Lavender sentenced him to a total of 22 months behind bars.
The judge said the events in the bank were "curious" and told Williams: "You have not provided anything like a full explanation of your activities."
Andrew Walker, defending, told the court: "It's a highly unusual feature that he walked into a bank and confessed to a member of staff he had gone there to carry out a fraudulent activity.
"The confession was designed not only to thwart the transaction but to bring about his own arrest.
"He was wholly out of his depth."