‘Despicable’ fraudster fleeces 90-year-old woman of $13,000

A veteran fraudster who fleeced a 90-year-old woman out of nearly $13,000 has been locked up for 19 months.

Ian Parsons had a particular modus operandi, according to Judge Emma Smith, who said at the Dunedin District Court yesterday that the defendant had been: “obtaining and using documents for your own advantage … You’re skilled at fraud as a means of living.”

The defendant’s previous time before the court, after forging a document and ripping off another friend in 2012, was part of an entrenched history stretching back to 1986, the judge said.

The victim of his latest offending, now a retirement home resident, said she had met Parsons through her niece and came to view him as “a younger brother”.

“You couldn’t get a nicer person,” she said.

Parsons would give her rides around town so she could attend appointments before he embarked on more than two years of sustained and repeated fraud, which began in August 2016.

He gained the victim’s trust to the point where she let him set up her telephone banking.

Over the ensuing months, Parsons would transfer funds between the woman’s accounts then use her bank card as if it was his own.

The defendant, the court heard, would shop at supermarkets, electronic stores and made numerous withdrawals from ATMs in Dunedin.

Such was his entitlement, he also used the card a couple of times on a New Year’s trip to Auckland in 2019.

While defence counsel Ann Leonard said her client was sorry, she accepted that was not apparent when he was interviewed before yesterday’s hearing.

Parsons justified the swindle by saying his victim owed him petrol money from all the lifts he had given her.

“You don’t present to me as particularly remorseful in a genuine and honest way,” Judge Smith said.

Leonard put Parsons’ mindset down to his bipolar disorder and she argued he did not have any grand plan to defraud the elderly woman out of cash when he initially started driving her around.

The defendant had saved $2000 to repay his victim, she said.

But the judge noted there were others also scammed by Parsons who were waiting to be repaid.

He owed $8000 to various victims, which he had been paying off since 2013.

Although Leonard argued for home detention, the judge said this would not send the necessary deterrent message.

There were also suggestions that the proposed address at which Parsons would serve a community-based sentence was inappropriate because a potentially vulnerable person lived there.

She ordered him to repay the $12,800 he stole, starting with the $2000 lump sum.

The victim described Parsons as “despicable” and said she was still recovering from the shock of uncovering the deceit.

“I don’t think I’d now trust anybody to the extent I trusted him,” she said.

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