Serial fraudster jailed for four years after Telford doorstep cigarettes and alcohol scam

A serial fraudster who knocked on doors in Telford to offer elderly people cheap cigarettes and alcohol, before taking their money and absconding, has been jailed for four years.

Selena Spencer. Photo: West Mercia Police
Selena Spencer. Photo: West Mercia Police

Selena Spencer, 36, targeted elderly and infirm people, gleaning information about them from neighbours before approaching them and saying she had duty-free cigarettes and spirits to sell them at a discount.

When they were convinced to give her money in advance, she would leave to get the goods but would not return.

The amounts she took were in the £20-to-£50 range.

She helped one victim with his bags as he returned from shopping with his son, and once inside offered to sell them cheap alcohol.

When they agreed to buy brandy and whisky, they drove her to a place she said the alcohol was stored before she got out, walked down the side of a house and slipped away.

Deal

On another occasion she knocked on the door of a man whose name she had learned from speaking to neighbours about him. She addressed him by name and offered him a deal.

He said he did not smoke or drink but she continued trying to convince him anyway and followed him inside.

When her victim went to ask his wife if she was interested, Spencer stole his wallet from on top of a fridge.

She also targeted a bingo hall, ingratiating herself with a player before scamming them in a similar way.

In all she was prosecuted for six charges of fraud and one of burglary, relating to the stolen wallet.

They were all carried out in the Woodside, Malinslee and Oakengates areas of Telford in August last year.

She was brought to Shrewsbury Crown Court on Wednesday to plead, and entered seven guilty pleas.

Mr Philip Vollans, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said that she has 17 previous convictions for 69 offences, including fraud and theft.

Drugs

Her representative Miss Debra White said Spencer was taking drugs at the time of the offences and felt remorse for what she did.

Recorder James Smith, who heard the case, said: "[Spencer targeted] those who are often more vulnerable due to age or infirmity.

"Those who agreed to purchase items are induced to provide money upfront on some pretext.

"The defendant separates herself from the victim before disappearing with their money.

"In each of these cases the defendant made efforts to ingratiate herself with the victims as part of a deliberate ruse to win their trust."

Because of her criminal record and her deliberate targeting of the vulnerable, he said that the lowest possible sentence he could give Spencer, of no fixed address, was one of four years – having reduced it because of her guilty plea and because of time she has already spent in custody.

That sentence was for the burglary of the wallet, while she received a six-month concurrent sentence for each of the fraud charges.

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