"Good neighbour" jailed for 93 offences
10:55am Tuesday 21st August 2012 in News
A WOMAN who tried to rent out her neighbour’s home when she was supposed to be looking after it has been jailed for a year after admitting almost 100 offences.
Lorraine Banham, 55, was described as a prolific fraudster by Wiltshire Police .
Winchester Crown Court heard she had befriended elderly and vulnerable people by doing their shopping or cleaning before starting to steal money, bank cards and possessions from them.
While living in Melksham she made friends with neighbours and was asked to look after their home while they were on holiday.
As well as stealing from the house she showed a young mum around and took a £650 rent deposit from her.
She also showed four different sets of people around her own local authority home and took deposits from them before booking a ferry to Spain with her neighbour’s credit card.
“ I look back and I think how stupid I must have been, how gullible, in fact completely groomed by this one individual in my own home,” said one of her victims.
“My family and my friends have all been violated and this has completely ruined my trust in others. She used me as a smoke screen to carry out her fraudulent activity and I feel that for no fault of my own I am part of this ‘dirty process.’”
Banham was due to answer bail in March for stealing petrol and credit cards but told her solicitors she was in hospital.
Police later discovered the deception, put out an appeal on the Crimewatch Roadshow and following information, arrested her at the airport when she flew back to the UK in June.
Banham was charged with 19 counts of fraud, bilking and theft. A further 74 were taken into account Sgt Kerry Lawes said: “Lorraine Banham left a trail of destruction behind her, no matter where she lived or worked it appears she could not resist stealing or defrauding people out of money.
“This case was a culmination of months of tireless investigation and appeals to find her after she absconded to Spain. She is a very sad woman who cannot be trusted in any aspect of her life.”
People who believe they are victims of fraud can log on toactionfraud.police.uk or call 101.