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Fraudsters jailed after stealing thousands from Folkestone woman

A Folkestone woman who was ripped off by two cowboy roofers later told police: "I would have preferred to have been mugged in the street by a stranger instead".

The con men - calling themselves Daz and Phil - befriended the victim after doing work for her the previous year.

But once gaining her trust, the mean thieves - real names Darren Cherry and Walter Smith - plundered the victim's bank account.

Darren Cherry. Picture: Kent Police
Darren Cherry. Picture: Kent Police

Prosecutor Alex Rooke told Canterbury Crown Court how they bought angling equipment, sports clothes, scratchcards before splashing out on two vehicles.

When police were eventually alerted the men had looted nearly £32,000 from her account, leaving her penniless.

Now Cherry, 36, of Purley in Surrey, has been jailed for two years after admitting fraud.

His pal Walter Smith, 32, of Willow Drive, St Mary's Bay, admitted a similar charge and was given a three-year sentence because he only admitted his guilt shortly before the trial was due to start.

Mr Rooke revealed how one of the vehicles was later recovered parked around the corner from the Dymchurch home of Smith's wife Kelly.

After he was leaving the dock, Mrs Smith ran towards him planning an embrace but was stopped by a security officer.

Mr Rooke said the victim had been in her garden when she was approached by one of the men and reminded of the previous work done to clean the pathway.

Judge Simon James told them it had been a "callous, calculated and particular mean fraud"

After gaining her trust, they were given her bank card and pin number to buy some items for her at a superstore.

But the two decided to use to buy scratchcards which they turned into cash and also got "cash back" at the tills.

"There were also trips to sports shops, an Ashford angling shop, and in May they bought a Peugeot people carrier and a van, and then the card was used to pay for the 'W&D Roof Cleaning sign'," he added.

The victim has been told that because she trusted them with the pin number none of the money will be refunded by the bank.

She later told police: "I trusted these two men. They spent time with me. The money was an inheritance which was to last me through my retirement. I am now afraid of the future.

"I would have preferred to have been mugged in the street by a stranger than what they did to me by gaining my trust."

Investigating officer, DC Darren Brough, said: "These people took advantage of a very vulnerable woman who trusted them to carry out work on her house.

"She had no idea her money was being stolen. They had been using her card to buy all sorts of things including phones, sportswear and a roof rack. They even used her money to pay for sign writing on one of their vehicles.

"I’m just glad they've received time in prison for their deceitful behaviour, which has sadly left their victim feeling angry, upset and betrayed.

"Whilst some people who call at your home will be genuine, sometimes people can trick their way in and be very persuasive in getting you to part with your cash. If you are in any doubt, don’t agree to services or goods from doorstep callers."

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