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Woman who defrauded vulnerable man out of over £10,000 sentenced

News   •   Apr 16, 2018 06:00 BST

[Sentenced]: Yulanda Panayiotou

A woman who befriended a vulnerable man to defraud him of more than £10,000 has been sentenced.

Yulanda Panayiotou, 40 (29.06.77) of Lindisfarne Ave, Dagenham, was found guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Thursday, 12 April of 11 counts of fraud and three of theft of credit cards and a bank book despite claiming she couldn't have commited the offences as she was wheelchair-bound.

She was handed a 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years and ordered to complete 80 hours' unpaid work.

Police began an investigation after receiving an allegation of fraud on 21 November 2016. The victim was a man in his 60s and the fraud had started at the beginning of August 2016.

Panayiotou had befriended the victim by offering to help clear his garden as he was having difficulties due to ill-health. She then offered to do some shopping and asked for his credit card which, trusting her, he handed over.
She did the shopping but didn't give the card back. She did the same a few days later but this time asked for another bank card which she again failed to return.

Panayiotou attended the victim's home every day from then on, helping to clean his kitchen and doing small jobs around the house. All the while, she was opening accounts in his name, including store cards, mobile phone contracts and online gambling accounts, and intercepting mail and deliveries. She also used the victim's credit and debit cards until they reached their limits.

Altogether the victim lost around £10,500.

Panayiotou was arrested on 16 January 2017 and bailed pending further enquiries. She was charged on 27 July 2017.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Neil Wakeling, from Romford police, said: "Panayiotou claimed she couldn't have committed the offences as she is wheelchair-bound and she attended all her court appearances in a wheelchair.

"However, there was overwhelming evidence against her including independent witnesses, CCTV evidence of her walking around a shop and a sighting by myself of her running. A jury took less than two hours to convict her on all counts."