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Julie Benson ran up £11,000 debts using dead woman’s name
A WOMAN ran up £11,000 of debts in her dead friend’s name on catalogue and store card accounts, York magistrates heard.
For eight months after Maureen May died, Julie Benson bought items on the deceased woman’s accounts, opened new accounts and ordered new store cards claiming to be the deceased woman, said Katy Varlow, prosecuting.
Lee-Anne Robins-Hicks, Benson’s solicitor, said her client had regarded Mrs May as her “second mum” and had been allowed by her to use her accounts before her death. They had had a “long-standing” relationship.
Benson, 45, of Danebury Drive, Acomb, a former taxi firm employee, pleaded guilty to 16 offences of fraud.
Senior magistrate Richard Goodacre, sitting with two colleagues, said: “These are exceptionally serious offences.”
He warned her she could be sent to jail or committed to the crown court for sentence and adjourned her case until October 10 while probation officers prepared a pre-sentence report. Benson was released on bail.
Ms Varlow said Mrs May died in April 2012. On May 4, Benson changed the address and billing details on her accounts to her own. Benson then operated the accounts fraudulently for the rest of the year.
The court heard on May 4, she ordered a new Argos card. On May 12 she set up a Marisota account.
On May 15, she ordered an Evans store card. On May 29, she set up a Freeman’s account. On May 30, she set up an isme account and on August 6, she opened a Very account, all using the deceased woman’s name.
She made “sporadic” payments and when her deceit was uncovered, all the accounts were in arrears and together had debts of £11,000.
For Benson, Mrs Robins-Hicks said she had been refused credit by a catalogue company, and believed that was due to the actions of previous tenants at her rented home.
So Mrs May, who was 20 years older than her, had offered to place orders through her account and Benson then paid her back. This became a regular arrangement.
When she died, some of the instalment payments for Benson’s purchases had yet to be completed, so Benson had kept the accounts going, said Mrs Robins-Hicks.
Benson had health problems which meant she had to leave work and was later diagnosed with a stress-related illness.