Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Women Jailed over Fraud

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Women Jailed over Fraud

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE BROWN mike.brown@reachplc.com @MIKEBROWNGAZ

TWO women have been locked up after defrauding a vulnerable businesswoman out of thousands of pounds.

Elizabeth Johnson and Machele Caroline Farrar cosied up to Fiona Rhodes, who struggled to cope with the management of a caravan site in Whitby.

Johnson, 67, took advantage of Ms Rhodes in 2013, contacting her "out of the blue" and offering her help for free to reduce utility bills and help around the site, which had a turnover of half a million pounds.

Within two years she introduced Farrar, 60, who offered to help with payroll and accounting.

Neither woman had any formal qualifications in the work they'd offered to do and in 2015, the site manager became concerned when money began to disappear.

Noticing large sums of money were being taken from the business account, leaving insufficient funds to pay bills, he reported his concerns to Ms Rhodes and her accountant.

Following an analysis of the bank accounts by the accountant, it became clear that a significant amount of money had been taken from the business account.

PS256,000 was transferred from the business account into Farrar's own account and Johnson banked cheques to the value of PS65,951.

While some of it was used to pay staff wages and company bills, it was established that Farrar stole PS51,548, I hope today's provides some to Fiona's family friends.

DC Mark Butcher laundered PS84,131 and that Johnson stole PS150,062. Both denied the allegations with Farrar claiming she only took what she was entitled to and was guided by Johnson.

Johnson claimed she took the outcome comfort and money for services rendered, but admitted she sometimes took more than she was entitled to and gave herself extra in the form of a bonus.

Although both submitted extortionate invoices for their services that did not reflect the work carried out, a significant proportion of the money taken from the business remains unaccounted for. …

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