Dyson frausdster posed as vacuum cleaner engineer to prey on elderly women
A man who defrauded three women out of over Â£500 by pretending to work for vacuum manufacturer Dyson has been spared jail.
James Lawson claimed to be an engineer for the company when he took money from the victims in the Sunderland area.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how the 24-year-old's first victim, a 79-year-old woman, was left £180 out of pocket.
He rang the woman saying the warranty for her Dyson Hoover had run out and he would come and service it.
Paul Rolland, prosecuting, said: "He told her it required an overhaul and mentioned if she put it in for part exchange and give him £180 she could have a new-condition one.
"She agreed to that. He said he would be back in two weeks."
The court heard how the victim never heard anything else from Lawson.
A friend of the first victim then contacted Lawson about her Dyson vacuum cleaner, before they became suspicious, and paid him £25 for a service.
When he offered to have a reconditioned unit delivered to her for £150 she said she would pay by card, but he insisted on cash.
The woman said she didn't have the cash available and Lawson told her he would put it on hold.
The third victim, a retired lady with dementia, owned two Dyson vacuum cleaners.
Lawson told her he would service both and then presented the woman with a bill for £300.
She had £100 in cash and travelled to the bank that same day and later gave him a further £200.
Lawson, now of Salisbury Avenue, Leeds, was accused of three counts of fraud by false representation.
Mr Rowland told the court how Lawson maintained his 'not guilty' pleas and was convicted at magistrates' court.
Paul Green, defending, said: "There is nothing to say he deliberately targeted old people.
"He's simply cold-calling from a telephone book. There were markings on it saying 'no Dyson that address', 'not interested'
"It is not that he moved to the Sunderland area to commit offences, he was living there when the offences took place."
Mr Green told the court how Lawson moved to Leeds as a result of the embarrassment that took place.
The judge, Recorder James Wood, told Lawson he had committed a "nasty fraud".
He read out a victim impact statement from the 79-year-old victim which said: "Since this incident my confidence has gone downhill.
"Before this incident I was very independent and used to deal with most things on my own.
"I now get worried if anyone comes to my door or I hear noises outside.
"I have very good family support, which I did not have to really use before this incident, but now they are here on a daily basis.
"This has changed my life for the worse. I have lost my independence and I have got to rely on someone for most things."
Recorder Wood said: "I have no doubt that it had a very high impact on victims."
He sentenced Lawson to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Lawson was also ordered to abide by a rehabilitation activity requirement, complete 200 hours' unpaid work and pay compensation totalling £505 to the victims.