The Swindon swindler
A solicitor has been jailed after stealing money from two elderly people, to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds.
Alison Haley Griffiths, worked for Optimum Professional Services a legal and accountancy business in Swindon, when she was granted power of attorney for a 94-year old woman.
But Griffiths took a light-fingered approach to her duties, by transferring money from the 94 year-old's account to her own account, over a two-year period from December 2018. She also illegally withdrew large sums of cash from the elderly woman's account, using an ATM. In total, she pocketed around £49k from the 94-year-old's account.
Griffiths admitted the theft to her employer, and in 2021 she was reported to Wiltshire police.
When officers investigated Griffiths they discovered that she had also taken advantage of her position as a power of attorney for an 80-year-old man. The victim's family reported the offence, when his care provider informed them that the elderly man had insufficient funds to pay for his care.
The solicitor admitted to transferring around £35k from the man's account into her own between May 2020 and September 2021.
Griffiths was employed by Optimum Professional Services at the time of the matter. A spokesperson for the business said: "As soon as concerns were raised about Alison Griffiths she was dismissed, and we informed the police, as well as the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We have cooperated with all investigations throughout."
"We have reviewed all cases and work handled by Alison Griffiths and are satisfied that this is an isolated case. We are shocked and saddened at the behaviour of someone who we thought to be a trustworthy colleague."
RollOnFriday understands that the second offence involving the 80-year-old was unconnected to the work done by Optimum Professional Services.
A spokesperson for the SRA told RollOnFriday: "We have been aware of this case for a number of years and have been awaiting the outcome of the court hearing. Now this has concluded we can gather all relevant information and decide on next steps.”
A Wiltshire Police DC said: "As power of attorney, Griffiths was expected to safeguard the finances of the victims and act on their behalf in their best interests. Instead, she has abused their trust by transferring significant sums of money from their accounts into hers, meaning that in one of the cases, there was no money to pay for the victim's care." The DC added that fraud "can and does devastate families."