Date Published 13 October 2011
A TENANT stole his landlord's credit card and racked up more than £10,000 in debt in a 'galling' and 'disturbing' fraud, a judge said.
Landlord Paul Hardiment only discovered that Michael Wild had been using a Barclays bank card in his name while he was undergoing a York County Court order to obtain months of unpaid rent from his tenant.
When Mr Hardiment visited the property, in Bishopthorpe Road, York, he discovered a stack of bills and letters from the bank demanding repayments for £10,162.55 credit card bill in his name – racked up between September and December last year.
York Crown Court heard that Barclays Bank had sent the card to the Bishopthorpe Road address, where Mr Hardiment had previously lived before renting out the property, followed by a personal identification number (PIN) several days later. The bank company had sent the card unsolicited.
Wild, 47, then used to card to buy new tyres for his girlfriend's Audi TT, shopping and paying off gas bills, said Chris Smith, prosecuting.
Nicholas Barker, defending, told the court Wild had fallen on hard times and had used the credit cards to buy 'quite mundane items' such as food shopping and pay bills, and intended to pay the cash back. Mr Barker said: 'This did not fund any high living.'
But Judge Stephen Ashurst, the Recorder of York, said: 'I do not accept that'.
He said it must have been 'extremely galling' for Mr Hardiment who, after having to pursue a County Court case to retrieve rent from Wild, then found statements in his own name on the doorstep.
The judge said: 'This is while seeing a £62,500 Jaguar with Mr Wild's personalised number plate on the drive. This is a high-living case. Let's call a spade by a spade.'
The court heard Wild, now of Oxford House, Lowther Terrace, York, had since been employed in the city as a financial advisor, advising the elderly on trust laws and how to mitigate inheritance tax.
Sentencing Wild, Judge Ashurst told him it must have come as a 'nasty shock' to Mr Hardiment to discover letters chasing him for a £10,000 debt, adding: 'When people get letters like that it is extremely disturbing.'
Wild pleaded guilty to fraud and theft. He was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work.
Judge Ashurst said he was restricted by sentencing guidelines on the punishment he could pass on, but added: 'You are now publicly exposed as someone who is deceitful.'
The best way to avoid this type of identity fraud is to have your post re-directed by Royal Mail, it is a very cheap service and can be done for 6 or 12 months at a time, the cheap cost of this is nothing compared to your credit rating and name if a gang of criminals were to get hold of your personal information. Everytime you get a peice of mail to the address you can write to that company/person and give them your new details. Within a very short space of time, the post should have stopped.