Mobile hairdresser stole £3,000 from vulnerable customer

front of ipswich magistrates court

Hannah Duff appeared at Suffolk Magistrates' Court - Credit: Gregg Brown

A mobile hairdresser has been handed a suspended prison sentence for stealing £3,000 from the bank account of a vulnerable woman. 

Hannah Duff appeared at Suffolk Magistrates' Court last Friday, June 25, to admit two counts of fraud by false representation.

The 28-year-old took £3,000 of homecare money from the account of a partially-sighted wheelchair user who had given her a place to stay.

She then took £30 from another customer with agoraphobia and severe anxiety, the court heard.

Prosecutor Colette Harper said the first victim, an 87-year-old stroke survivor, had provided Duff with accommodation when she had nowhere else to live.

The woman only became aware of the missing money when her account went into overdraft, said Mrs Harper.

Duff, formerly of Fonnereau Road, Ipswich, had been providing a mobile hairdressing service from autumn 2019, under the name Naomi Jane, before moving into the woman's address at the end of January last year. 

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"The defendant said she and her partner were sleeping in a car," Mrs Harper told the court.

"The victim said she couldn't see them homeless when she had a spare room."

Mrs Harper said Duff had taken out loans using the personal details of the victim, who had also noticed her passport missing before uncovering the fraud at the end of May last year. 

In the meantime, on March 11, another female customer noticed £30 debited from her bank account, via Paypal, following failed attempts to move £90 and £60.

The woman had left her bank card unattended while washing her hair before having it cut by Duff, who she paid in cash and knew as Hannah Louise.

Last August, Duff was handed a 12-month community order, with 120 hours of unpaid work, for stealing two bank cards and fraudulently purchasing items.

Mark Holt, mitigating, said the offences before the court on Friday pre-dated those for which Duff was previously dealt with, and may not have made a substantive difference to the sentence.

"She accepts these offences are thoroughly unpleasant," he added. 

"She is totally ashamed of having committed them and has shown genuine remorse."

Mr Holt explained that Duff had committed the offences as a result of succumbing to the pressure of an abusive relationship, but had since found accommodation away from Suffolk. 

Magistrates handed Duff 28 weeks' custody, suspended for two years, and ordered her to pay £3,030 in compensation to the victims.