A financial advisor and his family are facing ruin after falling for the false claims of a woman that she was about to inherit up to £750m.
Despite living in poverty in a caravan in the Goathland area, Lucy Boyle managed to convince Duncan Raw and his wife the money was coming and they would have jobs managing the massive fortune on her behalf.
On the strength of Boyle’s claims, Mr Raw, also from the Goathland area, gave up his well-paid employment in anticipation and lent her approximately £31,000, York Crown Court was told on Friday.
Matthew Bean, prosecuting, said between August 2006 and February 2008, Boyle (27) also managed to dupe two other local residents with her story. One of them, Ruth Hill, loaned her £1,450 and the other, Eileen Freeny, just under £3,000.
But after hearing that Boyle, who has since moved to Wales with her partner, is on disability benefits and has no assets, The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst ordered her to pay £1 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Boyle appeared for sentencing on three charges of fraud and one of obtaining property by deception – having benefited from her crimes to the tune of £35,270.
Mr Bean said that when eventually challenged by Mr Raw about the money, Boyle wrote out a cheque for £40,000 which bounced and made various excuses to her other victims, still maintaining her story that her father was terminally ill and leaving her the fortune.
Taryn Turner, mitigating, said that her client, who had been a “wild child” in her adolescence, had psychological problems for which she was now receiving treatment.
Adding that Boyle’s victims had either been “blindingly naive” or she had been very plausible, Mrs Turner suggested that Mr Raw was perhaps “looking out for his own profit”.
She added that her father’s illness – although he did not have a fortune – had an effect on Boyle’s “precarious mental state” and that she told people of her impending wealth so much that in the end she actually believed it herself.
Mrs Turner said that Boyle’s “most bizarre” behaviour eventually did lead to her being contrite and taking herself to her local police station to try to explain what she had done.
Jailing Boyle for 15 months, Judge Ashurst said, although her victims did have a right to pursue compensation claims through the civil courts, they would perhaps be throwing good money after bad as she had nothing.
After reading about the effects Boyle’s criminality had had on the victims – Mr and Mrs Raw and their children facing financial ruin and the other victims feeling betrayed – the judge said that, no matter how naive they may have been, her actions had caused them to take steps to their detriment.
Adding that Boyle now presented a “pitiful character”, sobbing in the dock, the judge said that no punishment she received could put right the “dreadful impact” her actions had had.
Detective Constable Mark Hattersley of Whitby CID told the Whitby Gazette after the hearing: “The custodial sentence issued by the judge reflects the severity of the crime committed by Miss Boyle on these three innocent people.”