Pensioner scammed out of £240,000 admits fraud himself after ‘financial difficulties’

Washington Mortgage Centre, The Galleries, Washington.
Washington Mortgage Centre, The Galleries, Washington.

A retired lecturer conned out of £240,000 in a multi-million-pound investment scam has admitted fraud.

Thomas Hepple, 67, allowed his wife Maureen to claim £16,000 in pension credit by failing to tell her and the Department for Work and Pensions that he was receiving a pension.

“Along with 33 other people, they lost everything. It was a six-figure sum in respect of the Hepples – £240,000”

Lesley Burgess, defending

Sunderland magistrates heard the couple lost everything after being conned by David Reid of the Washington Mortgage Centre.

Reid, was jailed for six years in 2014 for investing £3million of clients’ money in bogus off-shore accounts.

Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: “This is quite an unusual sort of case as he is not the person who claims the benefits. His wife claims pension credit, for herself and her husband, on the basis that there is no further income.

“She seems to have been completely in the dark the whole time, because he didn’t tell her he received a final salary occupational pension, resulting in an overpayment of £16,000.

“Unfortunately she is liable for that, because it was in her name and will be recovered by the benefits agency.”

Hepple, of Lea Rigg, West Rainton, told investigators: “I didn’t tell her because we struggled financially. I thought, by not saying anything, we would still get the pension credit and she would be none the wiser.”

He admitted dishonestly causing someone to fail to notify a change in circumstances, between October 2006, and August, 2014.

Lesley Burgess, defending, said Hepple worked as a university lecturer in engineering, until a heart attack in 2001 left him unable to work. He started claiming pension credit in 2006, however the payments were stopped for a period in 2010.

“It was then that he became the victim of David Reid’s mortgage shop in The Galleries,” Ms Burgess said. “Along with 33 other people, they lost everything. It was a six-figure sum in respect of the Hepples – £240,000.

“This isn’t a case where it has been fraudulent from the outset. They have been hit by this thing and they have lost every single penny of what they had. He put everything in the hands of David Reid.”

He will be sentenced on May 10.