A FRAUDSTER fleeced a friend out of £800 in a Christmas savings club scam.
Mark France, a self-employed Park Christmas Savings Club agent, took £20 a week from Terena Butcher between February and December last year, magistrates at Wakefield heard.
But France failed to deposit the cash with the savings club and told Miss Butcher her cash was gone when she was expecting to get £800 in vouchers last December.
France, 30, of Springstone Avenue, Ossett, Wakefield, admitted fraud.
Prosecutor Amanda Harris said: “She was extremely distressed, shocked and upset that a close friend had conned her out of so much money.”
Mrs Harris said Ms Butcher told police: “I can’t afford to buy any Christmas presents for friends and family this year and I can’t afford to go out socialising.
“My friend had breached the implicit trust I placed in him.”
Mitigating, Emma Covington told the court Miss Butcher is the mother of France’s ex-partner.
Mrs Covington added; “His relationship broke down and he lost his employment. Miss Butcher was giving him cash in hand and his finances had got out of control.
“He is aware quite acutely that he has breached the trust of a friend he held dear and he isn’t going to be able to save the friendship.
“His family has disowned him because they are ashamed of him.”
Sentencing France to a 12 month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work, bench chair Rebecca Gale told him: “I can’t tell you how lucky you have been to escape custody.”
France was also handed a 90-day 8.30am to 6pm electronically monitored curfew order.
He was ordered to pay Miss Butcher a total of £800 compensation and he must pay the court a £60 victim surcharge.