Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Conman Swindled Widow out of PS2k; 18 Months for Fraudster Who Befriended Woman at Bus Stop

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Conman Swindled Widow out of PS2k; 18 Months for Fraudster Who Befriended Woman at Bus Stop

Article excerpt

Byline: Gareth Lightfoot Court Reporter gareth.lightfoot@trinitymirror.com

A CALLOUS confidence trickster swindled a 67-year-old woman out of almost everything she had after befriending her at a bus stop.

Devious conman Gary Alexander was branded a skilled, plausible and despicable fraudster at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.

He left his victim feeling she could not trust anyone after he ripped up her carpets and made off with PS2,000.

He deliberately targeted a vulnerable woman as she waited for her bus home, the court heard.

He went up to her outside the Asda supermarket in Billingham and acted as if he knew her.

She was completely puzzled when the 48-yearold said: "Hi. I haven't seen you for ages."

She did not recognise the stranger, who gave a false name of Mike Smith at about 2.15pm on August 16.

Prosecutor David Crook said Alexander persisted in his deception, giving her a "cock and bull story" about his background.

He asked how her husband was, and she told him he had been dead for seven years.

When she mentioned that she needed work done on her home, Alexander said he would do it as he was in the plumbing trade.

He walked her back to her Billingham home, looked around and said he could do the work.

He returned two days later, cut up her carpets and put them in her back garden.

Then he asked her for PS2,000 to buy new carpets and fit a new toilet.

The pensioner went to withdraw the money from the bank, leaving Alexander in her house.

She gave him the money and he left saying he would come back to finish the job.

She waited for two days, genuinely believing he would return, but he never did.

She said in a statement: "He sounded so convincing. He has made me look a fool. I'm not sure I can trust people ever again. Why do people do these things? …

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