An ‘evil’ Shoreham man stole £20,000 from a friend of his grandmother by taking over her online life and applying for loans and credit cards in her name.
At one point pensioner Patricia Ross was receiving ten letters a day from banks about accounts she knew nothing about and even had her pension hijacked during the horrific 15 month ordeal.
James Trodd, 24, used her love of Motown legends The Supremes in order to trick her into giving him access to her bank account, and the fraud only grew from there, a court heard.
Trodd, of Kingsland Close in Shoreham, appeared at Hove Crown Court last Thursday to be sentenced for five counts of fraud by false representation.
The court heard that he also targeted a former colleague, who now says she lives in constant fear of being scammed and has lost contact with her family.
Lies about fake bailiffs coming to his door and solicitors that did not exist
Prosecutor Amy Packham said: “Ms Ross and Jill Trodd, the grandmother of this defendant, had been friends for very many years and they shared a love of the Supremes.
“[Mr Trodd] then started to offer Ms Ross certain items for sale including what he said was a gold disc signed by the original trio of the Supremes.”
He convinced her to pay him £400 by bank transfer, but in fact made the transfer into his account three times so he could gain £1,200.
When Ms Ross noticed the overpayment Trodd convinced her that they were both victims of fraud and showed her a doctored bank statement to back up his lies, the prosecution said.
Over more than 15 months between April 2016 and July 2017, Trodd extracted money from Ms Ross for fake solicitors and to pay off bailiffs that did not exist, as well as applying for loans and credit cards in her name.
'Evil' Trodd even hijacked her pension, twice
In a particularly mean fraud, Trodd twice hijacked her pension and set it to pay into his account, the court heard.
In an emotional statement, Ms Ross – who lives in the Sunderland area – said: “He has even had my pension account changed which shows he has no conscience around my age.
“If feel that it is evil what he is doing.”
But Trodd was not content with just creating havoc with Ms Ross’ finances, however. The court heard that he would change her Sky TV password two or three times a day and had her locked out of her Facebook page.
Work colleague targeted in fake business scam
Trodd also stole from a work colleague he met at a recruitment firm in Brighton, the court heard.
Kelly Crosskeys lost hundreds of pounds over a period of time when Trodd convinced her to set up a business with him.
Speaking in court today she said: “I have lost so much confidence in myself.
“I do not trust anyone at all.
“Since the fraud I have had very little contact with my father and sister. They have lost trust in me.
“I feel that [my father] will never feel proud of me again.”
Defence: Trodd has shown 'genuine' remorse
Trodd’s defence barrister Sarah Thorne said: “His remorse is genuine, he’s not saying this because he wants a shorter sentence.
“Being remanded in custody was probably the best thing that could have happened for him.”
She said that in prison he has been addressing his drug problems and is being treated for depression.
She told the court that when committing the offences Trodd had been struggling with gambling debts.
Approximately £4,000 has been repaid to Ms Ross by Trodd’s grandmother.
"You have caused enormous harm. You should be utterly ashamed"
Judge David Rennie told Trodd: “You have caused enormous harm.
“Not only financial loss but also your conduct has damaged the emotional and psychological wellbeing of people who trusted you and were beguiled by your charm and your plausibility.
“You should be utterly ashamed of yourself.”
Trodd was jailed for three years and three months.