The treasurer of a social club’s Christmas fund cheated pensioner friends of twenty years out of £15,000 as she chased a bogus £4.5m fortune.
Pamela Dooner, 74, was herself the victim of a Nigeria-based scam and now lives alone, having been kicked-out by her husband and shunned by friends and family.
“This is an extraordinary case of betrayal, greed and gullibility,” Recorder Richard Prior told her. “All this in pursuit of a highly-speculative gain or highly-dubious windfall.”
Dooner, who had been treasurer for a decade at the United Services & Services Rendered Club, Balham, received fourteen months imprisonment, suspended for eighteen months.
“She has destroyed her little community,” probation officer Mervyn Fox told Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court. “She cannot believe she has put her community and family through sheer hell.
“The sheer shame has caused her to leave her home and she does not even see her two daughters.”
Dooner, of Hope Street, Sheerness, Kent pleaded guilty to stealing £950 from Sylvia McLeod, 80; £1100 from Audrey Taylor, 82; £3,000 from Sheila Burton, 84; £1,000 from Kathleen Selwood, 80 and £6,000 from Josephine Wilkins, 70.
She also pleaded guilty defrauding Nancy Elliot, 76, out of £3,000 and attempting to defraud Mrs Wilkins out of a further £3,000.
“For you it has been a tragic outcome. You have managed to ruin your own life,” Recorder Prior told her. “You were driven almost by a madness on your part and a lack of care for your club members.”
The offences occurred throughout 2015 and angry club members, seeking justice, attended earlier court hearings.
Mrs Elliot, a carer for her husband who is fighting cancer, told police she was left feeling “angry and bitter” and had been left “broke” by losing her Christmas money, which was her emergency fund.
Another victim was forced to cancel a trip to South Africa to see her family.
Dooner lost her own £12,000 life savings to the fraudsters, who convinced her she would receive 50% of a £9m Citibank account once she paid taxes and fees to release it.
Dooner approached some of her friends in tears, begging for money to pay legal fees to recoup money from the fraudsters, but this was simply the second-leg of the scam.
Her friends told police they felt sorry for her and gave her money from their share of the Christmas fund and their own personal bank accounts.
Prosecutor Miss Rebecca Foulkes told the court Dooner was eventually arrested. “She admitted taking all the money out of the Christmas fund.
“She said things got out of control and that she had lied to her daughter and her husband, who told her to leave.
“It is accepted all the money was sent to Nigeria.”
Her lawyer Mr. James Higbee said: “She has got nothing. She’s in a one-bedroom flat and is isolated.
“She has lost her friends and has received threatening phone calls, threats on facebook and abuse in the street.
“She genuinely believed everyone was going to get their money back with interest.”
No compensation order was made by the court and Dooner must also complete a twenty-day rehabilitation activity requirement.