Granny ordered to hand back £500,000 in fraud hearing

Florence Spencer from Norwich, who has been jailed for cheating banks and credit card companies out

Florence Spencer from Norwich, who has been jailed for cheating banks and credit card companies out of £216,000. - Credit: Archant

A 72-year-old career criminal, who opened 126 bank accounts in various false identities to cheat banks and credit card companies, has been ordered to hand over almost £500,000.

BMW-driving granny Florence Spencer even carried on her campaign of deception after her arrest and while on bail obtained 15 more credit cards in three different names and racked up further debts.

In a proceeds of crime hearing it was agreed Spencer, who had been living in Bowthorpe, had benefitted by £800,000 from “her way of life” but it is believed the real figure is more than £1m.

She was jailed for 43 months in June last year having pleaded not guilty to the allegations back in 2017 but earlier that year admitted two fraud conspiracies and two other fraud counts.

She was released last week after serving less than half that term and appeared at Liverpool Crown Court via video link from the crown court in Sheffield - the city where she now lives.

A property she owns in Osborne Road, Sheffield, containing two flats, is among her assets -which total £437,625 - with cash contained in ten bank accounts, Premium Bonds and her BMW, which she had bought for £14,000 using two credit cards in false names.

Judge Denis Watson, QC, who had sentenced her last year, ordered that that sum is paid over by July 2022 and she faces three years in prison in default.

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The time period was fixed to allow time for the Osborne Road property to be sold.

There was a hiccup during Tuesday’s hearing when Spencer refused to sign documents to the banks in the false names she had used to get the money released but was persuaded to sign using her real name and her former alias used for each account.

She had been sentenced for fraudulently obtaining about £216,000 but investigations for the proceeds of crime hearing into her “lifestyle” offending revealed the much higher figure amassed over more than 15 years.

When her home in Sukey Way, Norwich, was searched in November 2015 a total of 32 credit, debit and store cards, 11 of them in her handbag, were found.

It was also discovered she had a comprehensive card index system with the relevant passwords and pin numbers in the various false names. 

She also had seven mobile phones, three of them with details of the bogus account holders taped on the back.

In sentencing Judge Watson told her they “were indicators of how well planed, carefully thought out and how sophisticated this offending was for you,” he said.

He added: “You needed this detailed card index system for you to keep track of your own lies.”

He said that after her arrest and while on bail “what followed was a breath taking set of lies to credit card companies so you could carry on with fraud.”

She cunningly realised that the seized cards would be locked away by police and so she contacted credit card companies pretending she had lost them or they had been stolen and got replacement ones. 

He added: “For more than 15 years you have shown yourself to be an intelligent, articulate and successful fraudster. Quite simply fraud became your occupation and was your way of life.”