Harrogate con artist jailed after fleecing disabled woman out of £18k
An “evil” con artist has been jailed for three years after fleecing a disabled woman in her care out of £18,000 and blowing it on shopping sprees.
Corina Rose Lyons, 54, tricked the victim - who is wheelchair-bound - into handing over her credit card and money from an inheritance, claiming she needed to borrow the money for essential costs.
As part of a “convoluted tissue of lies”, the confidence trickster, from Harrogate, convinced the named woman to hand over her credit card after telling her she had been offered a job as a code-writer for Sony and needed money for software, York Crown Court heard.
She then went on a £10,000 spending spree on the card and blew two £5,000 loans from the victim, said prosecutor Helen Towers.
Lyons, of Pannal Green, was ultimately arrested following the six-year con, but vehemently denied the allegations – even trying to pin the blame on the hapless victim, whom she wrongly described as an “attention-seeker”.
She protested her innocence right up until the day of trial, when she ultimately admitted three counts of fraud.
At the sentence hearing on Thursday, Ms Towers said the victim suffered from a condition which caused her chronic pain and confined her to wheelchair, for which she needed care.
Lyons, who was working for a Harrogate care group, became one of her carers from 2004.
In 2010, Lyons became her sole carer and was trusted by the victim, whose mother had died in January of that year.
The victim inherited her mother’s estate which was used to pay off her mortgage by endowment. She obtained a grant to employ Lyons as her main carer but by December 2011, the wicked con woman told the victim about her “money woes”.
Lyons said she “urgently” needed £5,000 for pressing needs and the victim duly “organised a loan of £5,000 to be paid into (Lyons’s) account”, added Ms Towers.
Within three weeks, the entire £5,000 had been spent by Lyons following an online shopping splurge and several cash withdrawals.
In about February 2012, Lyons - who had a previous fraud conviction from 2009 after fleecing a church-going woman out of nearly £100,000, for which she was jailed - told the victim she had been offered a job working for Sony to write code for software.
She told her she “just needed another loan of £3,000” to buy software and promised to pay her back within six months or “much quicker” if she got the job.
The unsuspecting victim offered Lyons her credit card to buy the software, with the agreement that Lyons would “make minimum payments on the card and…would clear the balance”.
By July 2012, Lyons had spent almost £10,000 on the card and the victim was “shocked” to find “cash withdrawals and transactions in shops”. Lyons had also deposited money from the card into her own account.
In October 2012, Lyons told the victim that all her money had been seized by her bank’s fraud department.
She said she had “successfully sued her bank and that the money would be deposited back into her account”.
She then claimed she had transferred the money into another account which had “frozen”, and she intended to sue that bank as well.
“This web of lies went on for months and months,” said Ms Towers.
In 2013 and 2014, Lyons made “several large deposits” amounting to nearly £14,000 into her own account.
Yet she still went back to the victim with “money problems”, telling her that if she “didn’t get £4,000 right now, she would be going back to prison, and (that) she had become involved in a bicycle scam”.
The kind-hearted victim, who was worried for Lyons, contacted her sister and asked her to transfer £4,000 “right away”.
Lyons said she was trying to sell her so-called “business” with Sony and even tried to authenticate her wild claims by sending the victim bogus emails, “purportedly from a (named) solicitor of criminal law”.
Lyons had spent £9,649 on the victim’s credit card and persuaded her to give her two loans - a near £20,000 fraud - but the “actual loss” to the victim was £18,649 because the credit-card debt had been “forgiven”.
Meanwhile, Lyons was indeed pressing ahead with a bike scam by posting adverts for bicycles for sale on the classified-ads site Gumtree.
A Gumtree user - a named man who became Lyons’s second victim - responded to the advert and paid £600 to the trickster, but the bike never arrived.
The disabled woman said that Lyons’s deceit had had a “devastating” effect on her life. It had resulted in her having to sell her house and meant she couldn’t afford to buy a property in London near her relatives. As a result, she ended up having to buy a cheaper property in Scotland where she knew nobody.
Lyons - who had previous convictions for 18 offences including fraud, theft from the person and obtaining property by deception - had been released from prison in 2010 and immediately set about targeting a new victim.
Her previous fraud victim was a “friend of the church” whose signature had been forged to obtain credit cards and receive goods.
Mohammed Ayaz Qazi, for Lyons, said she “simply didn’t learn her lesson” from her previous fraud conviction.
Judge Sean Morris described Lyons as an “evil fraudster”.
He told her: “You went to prison in 2009 for a near-identical offence, fleecing somebody who trusted you.
“You got your nails into the next victim, who was a woman who suffers from an awful affliction that makes her bed-bound mostly, and certainly wheelchair-bound.
“You knew she had come into an inheritance and you fabricated the most convoluted tissue of lies again and again and again, and that lady was trying to help you, and you were just spending (the money).
“You even forged emails, supposedly from solicitors that don’t exist, creating false stories of amazing jobs and so it ends up that almost £19,000 has been (lost) from your fraud.
“The (victim)…doesn’t trust anybody anymore, especially carers. Her neighbours are bringing her sandwiches to her by her bedside so she can eat.
“She should have been enjoying the twilight of her years with loved ones – you ripped that away. You are an evil fraudster.”