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Julie Benson stole ID of dead friend
AN IDENTITY thief who ran up debts of about £10,000 in the name of her dead “best friend” has escaped an immediate trip to jail.
Julie Benson now faces civil legal proceedings as several catalogue and online store companies seek to make her pay up for the goods she ordered for more than six months in the name of Maureen May, York magistrates heard.
Benson’s solicitor, Lee-Anne Robins-Hicks, said her client had always intended to pay up and was only continuing an agreement that she had with her friend before her death.
Benson, 45, of Danebury Drive, Acomb, pleaded guilty to 16 charges of fraud.
She was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, on condition she undergoes 18 months’ supervision, ten days of activities specified by the probation service and does not commit more offences. She was also ordered to pay an £80 statutory surcharge and £85 prosecution costs.
Sam Law, prosecuting, said Mrs May died in May 2012. After her death, her Fashion World, K&Co and Julipa accounts continued to be active and, on May 4, Benson changed the delivery and billing address to her own, where Mrs May had never lived.
Benson also ordered new Evans store and Argos store cards and opened new accounts with Freemans, Marisota, isme and Very.
Police seized items from Benson’s home in November when they went there in connection with other matters and started to uncover her crimes.
By the time the defrauded companies realised what was going on, Mrs May’s accounts altogether had debts of about £10,000.
Mrs Robins-Hicks said Benson had difficulty getting credit because of the activities of previous tenants of the house she had lived in for the last 16 years.
So before she died, Mrs May, who was Benson’s “best friend” allowed her to use her accounts for her own purchases and Benson repaid her.
The new accounts were opened accidentally when she was directed to their companies when using accounts of related companies and she needed the cards to make repayments.
Initially Benson had kept up with repayments, but then lost her job with a taxi firm through ill-health.
She also cared for three close members of her family who also had major health problems.