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Woman stole nearly £7,000 by pretending to pay vulnerable family's care bills

PUBLISHED: 17:35 03 March 2018 | UPDATED: 17:35 03 March 2018

Picture: PA/Gareth Fuller

Picture: PA/Gareth Fuller

Archant

A woman who lost nearly £7,000 to a thief pretending to pay her vulnerable family's care bills has said she has "found it hard not to blame myself for being so trusting".

Carolyn Rayner offered to help the victim, who was unable to read or write, when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

She agreed to set up a direct debit to help pay for the family’s care bills.

But Rayner then kept money she withdrew from the elderly woman’s bank card for herself.

The theft was only discovered when the victim went to a cash machine to get money to buy her mother some new boots and found the account was almost empty.

They asked their uncle for help in working out why the balance was so low and discovered that between May and December that year, a total of £6,450 had been withdrawn.

The victim’s uncle then contacted the care provider, who was told none of the care bills had been paid since May and there was an outstanding balance of £3,000.

Speaking after Rayner was handed a suspended sentence for her crimes, the victim - who asked to remain anonymous - said: “I would like to thank the police for all their support in getting this case to court.

“During this investigation both my mother and aunt died and I feel very sad that the last thing we were talking about was what the defendant had done.

“I have found it hard not to blame myself for being so trusting and feel that I let my mom down, I have to remind myself that it was Carolyn who did wrong, not me.

“I still can’t sleep well because of this and don’t understand why Carolyn did this to me, I thought she was a friend.”

The 47-year-old, who was interviewed by officers voluntarily, denied any wrongdoing and blamed the victim for the theft but was later charged with two counts of theft.

She was due to go to trial at Peterborough Crown Court on February 5 but changed her plea and admitted two counts of theft.

Charges of witness intimidation and perverting the course of justice will lie on file.

Rayner, of Hazel Gardens, Wisbech, was sentenced to eight months in prison for each offence, to run concurrently, suspended for two years.

The case will be subject of a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing.

DC Emma Beart, from the Fraud and Cyber Investigation Unit (FCIU) at Cambridgeshire Police, said: “The victim in this case was exceptionally vulnerable at the time, their mother had just gone into residential care and they were struggling to deal with her financial affairs.

“What Rayner did was a complete breach of the trust they placed in her.”

For information and advice about fraud, visit Action Fraud’s website at www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z_of_fraud

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