Woman who duped elderly and infirm victims in Norfolk ordered to pay cash back

Elizabeth Dean at Norwich Crown Court.
Photo by Simon Finlay. Elizabeth Dean at Norwich Crown Court. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
3:36 PM

The daughter of a Norwich pensioner, who was one of the elderly and infirm victims duped by a convicted fraudster into paying up to £700 for cheap massage matresses, has welcomed the fact she has been ordered to pay back the £4000 she made out of the scam - rather than go straight to jail.

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Georgina Dean, also known as Elizabeth, deceived customers, who were mainly elderly, by claiming the mats or “therapy units” were medically approved and could treat a number of conditions, including Parkinson’s, when Norwich Crown Court heard the mats which she sold from prices ranging from £220 to £700 could be bought for £30 on eBay.

Dean, 39, formerly of Barnham Broom Road, Wymondham, who earlier was convicted of two counts of fraudulent trading, was sentenced to nine months jail, but Judge Anthony Bate decided to suspend the sentence for two years after hearing she had moved to West Sussex, and was in work.

Judge Bate ordered she should pay £500 a month back in compensation, and after hearing that some of her victims had since died, said any remainder of the cash clawed back should go towards the costs of Norfolk Trading Standards, who investigated the fraud.

He said: “It could be said you richly deserve to go to prison. However there is a better prospect of the losers being compensated if you are able to retain your liberty and work the losses off.”

Judge Bate also ordered Dean to do 300 hours unpaid work and £380 cash seized on her arrest go towards prosecution costs.

Matthew McNiff, for Dean, said not all her cutomers were elderly and said the sales had been “infrequent.”

“There was never any attempt for her to hide her name, her address, her contact details.”

He added: “She left such a trail that anyone could have followed it and arrived at her door.”

The news that victims should get their cash back was welcomed by the daughter of one of Dean’s victims Carol, whose mother is in her late 80s and lives in Norwich, and lost £100 deposit.

However she said that Dean’s deception was not just about the cash, as it had a big impact on her victim’s lives.

“My mum’s always prided herself on being able to spot a scam a mile off, and whenever she has been uncertain, she has always discussed it with us.”

She said her mother had been taken in when Dean contacted her and she was led to think she was something to do with the doctor’s surgery.

“Dean came round, demonstrated a massage pad and mum signed a piece of paper agreeing to pay £220 for unit and paid £100 cash deposit.”

She said luckily they cancelled the order, but her mum had lost her deposit.

“Mum lost her deposit, which is pretty tough, but this is about even more than the money. Mum’s confidence has been shaken to bits as a result of her encounter with Dean.”

She said her mother felt stupid that she had been taken in.

“Dean’s crime may technically be fraud but the effects go further than one can imagine. Dean’s actions have changed our mother from being a strong, capable lady into a very vulnerable one, to the extent that she doesn’t want to go out and won’t even pick up the phone when it rings at home.”

“We know that only time, and our support, will heal this, but so many of Dean’s customers, like my mum, don’t have all the time in the world to get over it and we are just so angry that they have to go through this at their ages.”

Now Dean has been sentenced she hoped it would allow victims like her mother to move on.

She also hoped the case would send out a warning, so other victims would not be taken in by scams of this type.

“It is easy to fall into a trap. If something like this has happened to someone, they should let other people know about it.”

She said they should not feel foolish about having been taken in.

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