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Trainee adviser told to pay £26k after swindling parents

Trainee adviser told to pay £26k after swindling parents

A trainee financial adviser who swindled her parents' £130,000 retirement fund while they were away on holiday has been ordered to pay back just a fifth of the cash. 

Melissa Humphreys, 33, was jailed for three years in November for fleecing her mum and dad out of their life savings.

She drained their bank accounts and maxed out several credit cards while Terence Fordham, 80, and his 70-year-old wife Elizabeth were away in Spain.

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After leaving her parents on the breadline, a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing ordered she must now pay back just £26,000 of the money she stole.

Prosecutor Jamie Sawyer told Chelmsford Crown Court that Humphreys benefitted from £158,705 as a result of her deception.

He said: "The request is for the Crown to make a confiscation order, compliance order and a compensation order."

Mr Sawyer then went on to total Humphreys' available assets which came to £26,710.

He added: "There is a pension scheme valued at £24,767, in her bank account is £443 and a Mini Cooper car which is to be sold for £1,500.

"In respect of the pension scheme there is a complication in so far as tax being payable on that.

"At this stage if that scheme ends up being less than the figures quoted in court then the defence need to make a variation order.

"The Crown and financial investigation unit won't oppose that order, and the Proceeds of Crime Act order can be amended."

Defence barrister Gerwyn Wise made no objections.

Judge Simon Mayo QC issued a confiscation order for £26,710.46 and a compensation order for the same amount "or such lesser sum which proves to be realisable" for parents Elizabeth and Terence Fordham.

The court heard how the elderly couple now live solely on their pension payments.

An additional compliance order, under section 13 of the Proceeds of Crime Act, was enforced.

Addressing Humphreys, formerly of Colchester, Essex via video link, Judge Mayo said: "You must immediately authorise payment of your Scottish Widows pension to Essex Police to put towards the satisfaction of the confiscation order I have made today at this court."

If she fails to pay the amount, Humphreys faces a further year in prison.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard last year how her crimes began to surface in 2010.

The couple's savings were largely from the proceeds from the sale of their £225,000 home in March 2006, when they settled their debts and packed their lives into a £120,000 motor home for their dream retirement.

But they later returned the UK and discovered their hard earned cash had been cleared out of their accounts.

Humphreys lied to her parents about transferring cash to pay for a sister to visit them in Spain.

But a shopping spree was cut short when her mother was unable to withdraw any money and she realised a maxed Post Office credit card had incurred £15,000 charges.

Unable to afford the flight home, the desperate couple borrowed money from Mrs Fordham's sister to fly back to the UK.