The Camelot God speaks
A solicitor has been jailed for defrauding clients of almost £2m in a bid to chase a bogus lottery win.
Hugh Lansdell, 74, was Senior Partner at Norwich-based firm Hansells. When fraudsters contacted him to say he had won £825,000 in a Spanish postcode lottery, he took the bait and responded.
Presumably not quite believing their luck that such a senior lawyer could be so naïve, the crooks told Lansdell that the jackpot was actually £1.825m, and he needed to cough up a 'non-resident tax' for the cash. The scammers then demanded further payments*.
The experienced solicitor handed over all his and his wife's money to the crooks, before stealing from the firm's client accounts in a bid to release the non-existent money.
Over a two year period from 2015 to 2017, Lansdell made 72 fraudulent payments totalling around £1.85m from client accounts, as well as investment portfolios held on trust in his control. 29 of Hansells’ clients and two charities were affected.
Lansdell initially told the firm that the money had been invested in a scheme. However, he was finally busted when a partner demanded the funds be returned and Lansdell failed to give the money back. In 2019, the SDT struck him off the roll.
The former partner has now appeared before the Norwich Crown Court where he admitted fraud by abuse of position.
The CPS prosecutor told the court: "After falling victim to a scam himself, Hugh Lansdell exploited his significant position of trust as a senior partner to take an extraordinary amount of money from clients."
Will Carter, defending Lansdell, said his client was "blinded by faith" not greed, and had intended to give the money to his local church for renovations and to establish a hostel in Norwich, according to a report in The Daily Mail.
The defence barrister said that Lansdell was a "deeply religious" man and a devout Christian and had been a "victim of fraud" after believing that God was answering his prayers.
Carter added that his client had "lost almost everything, including his wife" and now "lived on his own having been declared bankrupt."
The court sentenced Lansdell to four years in prison.
Hansells did not respond to a request for comment.
*A tip for readers who receive similar correspondence – here’s how you should respond.