An heir hunter from Sussex who cheated 19 victims out of £99,000 faces jail.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Daniel Bates tracked down each person, calling them to say they were beneficiaries of unclaimed wills and got them to sign contracts so he could claim the cash for them.
The 45-year-old, whose home burned down during court proceedings, agreed to pay over the sums he got from the official receiver, less his 25 per cent.
But prosecutor Kirston Berlevy revealed how Bates never did - ignoring victims, becoming aggressive or using delaying tactics.
Charity Age UK was due to receive £21,637 from an unclaimed will, but Bates, of Beach Gardens, Selsey, never passed on the cash received.
Bates, who has received about £160,000 so far in insurance cash for his home, had set up a legitimate heir hunter firm in 2012, later carrying out the fraud between July 2012 and June 2014.
Mr Berlevy said: “Over a 23-month period this defendant has identified the individuals concerned, secured the written and signed contracts, secured the monies, which is not a quick nor uncomplicated task, and having received those monies he’s either ceased all contact or when contacted he’s lied and delayed.”
Victor Makin, an NHS manager, received just £2,083 out of £13,852 from Bates after winning a county court judgement.
An elderly victim, who received a call from Bates, thought she was signing a contract for him to make a family tree.
Mr Berlevy said she contacted police after not receiving anything – when she should have received £8,030.
“When she signed the contract and the trail went cold she heard nothing for a very long time,” Mr Berlevy said.
Bates previously promised to pay the cash but has not.
Judge Roger Hetherington adjourned the case to next month, saying it was right ‘greedy’ Bates be given a chance to pay, as he was on the cusp of going to jail for two years.
But the judge added: “I’m not going to let you get away with it.”
Bates had admitted 19 frauds.
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