A 42-year-old man from Swansea has been sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for 12 months, after conning three Anglesey widows out of thousands of pounds.
Jason Edwards persuaded the women to part with their cash by convincing them they needed insurance for their household goods.
Mr Edwards would contact them and deliberately confuse them with dates, policies and payments, manipulating them into extending their policies for years into the future. Once he had their bank details, he would help himself to regular payments without their permission.
79-year-old retired accountant Ann Downs, lives in Benllech, Anglesey. Her husband had initially paid a man called Jason Edwards from Swansea, over the phone, for insurance on their TV.
Following her husbands death Ann received a letter from Edwards saying they owed him money and the widow got in touch with him.
“He was selling some like extra insurance, covering if anything else went wrong and I was just gullible enough to accept what he said”
She paid for policies for satellite equipment and household goods for her kitchen and gave Edwards her bank details. The calls then came on a regular basis.
“It was, sort of, all these different deals which seemed very good, I know it sounds so silly now but at the time it was very plausible.”
Over 2 years he had taken regular payments from her bank account, but by the time she realised it was too late. £2700 in total was taken, £1800 of which, without her permission.
After her family contacted and challenged Edwards about the payments he returned £720 to her account, but she remains nearly £2000 pounds out of pocket.
“When I was working I would have definitely spotted it straight away. I was being a silly old lady. I was preparing making sure everything was alright.”
As soon as Mrs Downs realised Jason Edwards was taking regular payments from her account she also contacted Anglesey Trading Standards. Robert Williams was the investigating officer.
He would take their bank details, they were all vulnerable women because of their age and they were three widows. He would take money out of their account without their permission for insurance and then within a few months, he’d take another payment out, two or three months later, he did the same thing again.
Anyone selling insurance of any kind must register with the Financial Conduct Authority, Jason Edwards did not do this.
“He was selling fake insurance and took payments for insurance years into the future.'' Robert Williams said.
''There was never any insurance to begin with.”
Helena Herklots, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales safeguards the rights and the safety of pensioners and she says crimes like this must be tackled.
Scams are really despicable crimes against older people and it is very important that older people are aware of the risks, but also that businesses: banks, building societies, the post office also take measures to train their staff to spot when these scams might be happening. There’s a lot more that we all need to do to increase the awareness of these sorts of crimes that take place.
Helena Herklots says that these scams have a huge effect on victims lives.
“It’s not just that you lose your money it’s the impact on your own confidence, on your ability to live independently. These can be devastating crimes and they need to be dealt with in that way.”
Three weeks ago at Caernarfon Crown Court, Jason Edwards pleaded guilty to six charges against him. Two counts of engaging in aggressive commercial practice, two counts of reckless commercial practice and two counts of engaging in misleading commercial practice.
Today Jason Edwards was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for 12 months. He was also disqualified as acting as a company director for five years and was given a restraining order for three years preventing him from contacting the three women he had targeted from Anglesey. He was also ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.
His sentencing today offers at least some comfort to those he committed fraud against.
“It serves [him] damn right.'' Ann said.
''I think that’s it and I hope that things are put in place so that [he] can’t do it again.”
Anyone worried that they may be the victim of fraud call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
You can see the full story on our current affairs programme Y Byd ar Bedwar, 9.30pm on S4C, English subtitles are available.