A man accused of hijacking a vulnerable man’s bank account and stealing more than £22,000 from him has told a trial he was helping his victim – and didn’t prey on him as an “easy target”.
Allan Lawson is alleged to have scammed £22,259 from Benno Wolecki over the course of almost three years between July 2014 and May 2017.
Mr Wolecki died at the age of 67 a few months after the fraud is said to have ended.
Lawson is alleged to have set up an online banking facility on Mr Wolecki’s TSB accounts and used that to apply for loans in his name before transferring repeated sums of cash to his own bank accounts.
A trial at Dundee Sheriff Court heard evidence that on numerous occasions bank transfers were made from Mr Wolecki’s accounts in to Lawson’s – and that minutes later he would be at a cash machine withdrawing money.
Procurator fiscal depute Joanne Smith also pointed to mobile phone evidence of the TSB bank website being accessed on Mr Lawson’s mobile phone around the time that transfers were made into his account.
But Lawson claimed he had not intentionally accessed the site and claimed it might have been an “accident”.
Miss Smith said: “You were on your phone transferring money from that account.”
Lawson replied: “There’s no evidence of that.”
The trial heard Lawson was a regular visitor to Mr Wolecki’s home on the edge of Dundee city centre in a sheltered housing complex.
He claimed Mr Wolecki had asked him to help pay his bills and assist him in getting cash out from the bank after he lost his driving licence for health reasons.
Bank records showed repeated transfers of cash from Mr Wolecki’s accounts directly into Lawson’s.
Lawson, giving evidence in his own defence, told the trial he had been asked to take the cash out by Mr Wolecki to pay bills.
He also claimed Mr Wolecki was repeatedly falling victim to “gambling scam letters” and was putting cash he had taken out towards those.
Prosecutor Miss Smith asked why the amounts of cash he was withdrawing to take to Mr Wishart didn’t tally with the amounts being transferred into his account.
Lawson claimed he was being “loaned” money by Mr Wolecki – who the court heard was undergoing tests at a hospital’s memory clinic because he was “getting more forgetful” – and paid him back every month.
The first transfer into Lawson’s account was for £3,500 – a loan taken out by the vulnerable pensioner for Mr Lawson.
Lawson claimed he had been paying it back by standing order at £60 a month – and had paid it off within a year.
But bank records showed only a single payment going back to Mr Wolecki.
Fiscal depute Miss Smith said: “I have to put it to you that you saw him as an easy target – you were transferring money from that account to your account?”
Lawson said: “No.”
Lawson, 39, of Broughty Ferry Road, Dundee, denies a charge of fraud alleged to have been committed betwen July 15 2014 and May 8 2017 on summary complaint.
It is alleged he obtained £22,259 by fraud by repeatedly accessing Mr Wolecki’s accounts and stealing the cash.
The trial, before Sheriff John Rafferty, continues later this month.