A widower has been cheated out of £87,000 by a serial fraudster who sold him non-existent possessions including an Aston Martin, designer jewelery and a backhoe.
Brendan Flannagan, 62, claimed to run a liquidation company, which meant he could sell items salvaged from bankrupt businesses at rock bottom prices. He bought a MacBook Pro and a Dyson hair dryer at full price which he used as bait to convince his victim that his promises were legitimate.
Over the course of three months, the grandfather transferred over £87,000 to Flannagan, which was either spent on shopping or gambled. The devastated victim had received the money through a life insurance payout following the death of his wife and had hoped to invest it to benefit his children and grandchildren. The court heard he remained too embarrassed to tell his family what had happened.
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Continuing, Claire Larton told Preston Crown Court there was a dispute over where they first met, with the victim saying they first met in 2019 when he was selling his house. This first encounter is denied by Flannagan but he agrees that there was a chance encounter two years later where the scammer lied that he was involved in a liquidation business.
He convinced the man enough to order a Dyson hair dryer and two MacBook Pros – one for himself and one for his son. The man paid £220 in cash for this and the hairdryer and one of the MacBooks were handed over after Flannagan paid full price for them.
This gained the victim’s trust and led to future orders being placed. Ms Larton said: ‘Over the next three months, between April and July, the victim was offered a number of other items for sale. He continued to tell the victim that he belonged to this company in liquidation and that the shares were downgraded following the closing of companies.
She said those items included “vehicles, designer watches, a motorhome and even a shovel”, with brands including Gucci and Aston Martin allegedly being purchased. The delays were attributed to the protracted nature of the liquidation and the need for everything to be officially signed off.
Ms Larton said the couple also exchanged thousands of text messages, with the victim worrying about the delays and questioning Flannagan’s legitimacy. Each time, he reassured the victim.
She said the money was either withdrawn in cash, spent online at Argos, Boots, Dunelm Mill and Sainsbury’s, or used for gambling. Flannagan no longer has any assets so there are currently no plans to pursue proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act in an attempt to recover money from him.
The victim did not provide an impact statement, but had earlier explained that the scam left him in poor health from stress, anxiety and depression and with blood pressure that was “ through the roof. He said he now suffers from panic attacks and struggles when alone, particularly at night.
Ms Larton said Flannagan admitted to the scam in a police interview and claimed he had been in debt for 40 years and needed to deal with it. He told the author of a pre-sentence report that he was being sued by loan sharks, but this was denied by Judge Graham Knowles QC, who told him: “I don’t believe a word of it. The only predator in this case is you.
The court heard that Flannagan had been convicted of 58 offenses dating back to 1986, about 51 of which related to fraud and the other seven to theft or dishonesty. Ms Larton said he had spent much of the last 20 years in and out of prison.
At sentencing, Judge Knowles said the Flannagan was someone for whom prison was an occupational hazard. He said: ‘You have no remorse that can reduce the sentence. The effect on the victim was so severe that he could not tell his own family, his blood pressure is high, he suffers from panic attacks.
He imprisoned Flannagan, of Clay Barn Brow, Bamber Bridge, for four years.