Jail for conman who stole from people in debt

A ‘FANTASIST’ who lied about his qualifications for a job before committing a £78,000 fraud against the Bradford-based debt counselling charity has been jailed for three years.

Simon Warner-Hodgkin, 36, pretended to have a degree in Bible studies and banking qualifications to get a job with Christians Against Poverty which helps people facing bankruptcy and insolvency.

Warner-Hodgkin, who now lives in Saltdean Vale, Brighton, also failed to tell the charity about his previous convictions for dishonesty before becoming a team leader in its insolvency department, Bradford Crown Court was told.

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Warner-Hodgkin started working for the charity in February 2008, but in 2009 and 2010 he abused his position to transfer money from 45 client accounts.

Although the fraud involved transfers totalling over £78,000 Warner-Hodgkin pleaded guilty on the basis he had only kept about £30,000 for himself with the rest be returned to clients.

Judge Colin Burn was not told what had happened to the stolen money, but Warner-Hodgkin’s lawyer Ashok Khullar said he had lied to people close to him and had built up a “fantasy world”.

Judge Burn made a compensation order in favour of the charity which means they will get back about £2,500 from Warner-Hodgkin’s current assets.