Wigan cleaner conned man, 95, out of £10k

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A cleaner from Wigan who conned a 95-year-old out of more than £10,000 has been jailed for 15 months.

The family of William Potts have condemned Caroline Fyfield for systematically cheating the pensioner while supposedly keeping his home neat and tidy.

Caroline Fyfield

Caroline Fyfield

His daughter Yvonne Anders says the effect of the scam, which was only uncovered after the retired engineer questioned why he had not seen a bank statement in some time, has had a devastating impact on him.

She told the Observer: “She has effectively got murder on her hands because he was happy with his life, and quite independent, and she has taken all that away from him now. I want people to know all about what she has done so it can act as a deterrent, so no-one else has to go through what we have been through.”

The victim, who is known to family and friends as Bill, had lived on his own in the Moss Bank area of St Helens.

But he is now living in a residential care home in Thatto Heath.

Fyfield, 58, of Linden Avenue, Orrell, had been due to stand trial at Bolton Crown Court, on a charge of fraud by false representation, between dates in 2016 and 2017.

But she changed her plea to guilty, after an initial denial, and was imprisoned at a hearing this week.

Mrs Anders said that she originally got to know Fyfield through one of her son’s friends and thought that asking her to clean for her father, twice a week, worked out well for all parties.

She added: “She told us that she used to look after elderly people so it seemed like an ideal situation. But she turned out to be the cleaner who didn’t really clean and we had taken this up with her.

“She was intercepting his mail and when he told her he had not seen any bank statements delivered to the house in a while, she just told him it was just rubbish and nothing was the matter.”

But with his family’s assistance, an investigation was launched with his bank, which established that a number of withdrawals had been made without his authorisation.

Mrs Anders said: “The bank actually paid the money back to my mother as they accepted that it was fraud and they should have spotted, which did help a little.

“If she said she had been short then I would have given her some. She used to get £20 for coming in on Saturdays and another £20 for coming in during the week.”

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Pc Jill Scott, of Greater Manchester Police’s fraud investigation unit, said: “Caroline was known to the family and she was employed to help clean and shop for the elderly victim in the latter stages of his life.

“She took advantage of Bill’s kind nature and during the investigation it became apparent that she went to great lengths to disguise her offending by hiding bank statements for over a year.

“She has shown absolutely no remorse whatsoever throughout these proceedings and a custodial sentence was the right decision.

“This type of offence will not be tolerated, particularly on elderly or vulnerable members of our community.

“The police will do everything within their powers to bring these offenders to justice.”