Guilty: Dagenham conwoman who used a wheelchair as a ruse and tricked vulnerable man out of £10k
PUBLISHED: 08:44 16 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:17 16 April 2018
This 40-year-old weeping woman befriended a vulnerable man in his 60s in Dagenham and tricked him out of more than £10,000 of his savings.
Yulanda Panayiotou claimed she could not have cheated the man because she is in a wheelchair — and even attended her trial in a wheelchair.
But a detective saw her running and there was CCTV evidence of her walking around a shop which was presented to the court.
A jury took less than two hours at Snaresbrook Crown Court last Thursday to convict the trickster from Lindisfarne Avenue in Dagenham on 12 charges of fraud and two of theft of credit cards and a bank book.
“Panayiotou claimed she couldn’t have committed the offences as she is wheelchair-bound,” Det Con Neil Wakeling said after her trial. “She attended all her court appearances in a wheelchair.
“But there was overwhelming evidence against her including independent witnesses and CCTV evidence of her walking around a shop. I saw myself her running.”
The detective spotted her ‘legging it’ along Lindisfarne Avenue where she lives.
Panayiotou’s scam was to help clear the garden and do the man’s shopping as he was having health problems, the jury heard.
She asked for his credit card—but didn’t give the card back, then asked for another bank card a few days later which again she didn’t return.
Panayiotou went to his home every day, helping with housework, and all the while was opening accounts in his name, including store cards, mobile phone contracts, online gambling accounts and intercepting his mail and deliveries, the prosecution said.
She used his credit and debit cards until they reached their limits, around £10,500, the court heard.
Police arrested Panayiotou in January last year and charged her the following July.
In the dock, she denied all 14 charges.
But the jury found her guilty of 12 counts of dishonestly making false representation for gain and two counts of theft from a person, court records show.
She was handed an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 80 hours’ unpaid community work.
No order was made in court about the money she stole during the scam. The victim was refunded from the credit card company.