Businessman who ripped off vulnerable pensioners by selling fake wills is jailed (UK)

A BUSINESS man who ripped off vulnerable, sick pensioners by duping them to buy fake wills has been jailed.

Samuel Eaton targeted elderly victims in Runcorn and Widnes to mis-sell them wills and trust deeds while trading as The Pensioners’ Association and The Senior Citizens’ Advice Centre.

His leaflets gave the impression he was affiliated to Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and Sense, a charity for deaf and blind people.

Ironically, one man who accompanied his Runcorn parents to “protect them from sharks” was also duped and handed over £1,100.

Eaton, aged 66, was sentenced today to eight months at Liverpool Crown Court and ordered to pay £3,950 in compensation and costs.

Judge Alan Conrad, QC, said: “These are serious offences involving a number of different victims, some particularly vulnerable.”

He told Eaton that he had carefully targeted his victims to mis-sell legal documents, as demonstrated by the names of his businesses.

His first victim was a 71-year-old woman from Widnes.

David Birrell, prosecuting, said she had received a cold telephone call from Eaton and allowed him to visit her home, believing he was from Age UK.

He arrived in March 2013 and produced a business card with the Macmillan Cancer Support logo and played a DVD showing a BBC documentary relating to wills and trusts.

She and her husband “were taken in by this.”

He advised them about wills and powers of attorney and although they had wills, he said he would give them new ones as part of a special offer.

She handed over £1,100 to draft the documents but later noticed a number of mistakes in them.

In July, Eaton contacted an 87-year-old Runcorn woman, a hospital outpatient, under the guise of the Pensioners’ Association.

He misleadingly warned her she might lose her home if she went into care.

Believing she was dealing with a charity, she agreed to him visiting her at her home.

He produced Age UK literature and said while he was not a solicitor he had solicitors working for him.

Her 63-year-old son, who was there to ensure his parents were not ripped off, was also tricked by him.

He and his mum both handed over £1,100 for a trust deed and will.

It was after the son contacted the local authority that Eaton was arrested.

When examined by an expert, the documents were found to be basically useless as they were poorly drafted and contained errors, inconsistencies and ambiguous and contradictory clauses.

Mr Birrell added: “It is clear that each of his victims believed that his operations were charitable, rather than commercial ventures.

“There was a lack of professional diligence on the part of the defendant.”

Eaton, of Towndam Lane, Spalding, Lincolnshire but who lives in a caravan in Hastings, admitted four offences of engaging in a commercial practice which contrived the requirement of due diligence.

He operated his business from an industrial estate in Wigan.

When examined by an expert, the documents he gave victims were found to be basically useless as they were poorly drafted and contained errors, inconsistencies and had ambigious and contradictory clauses. Trevor Parry-Jones, defending, said that Eaton, who suffers from diabetes, has no previous convictions and his business “started as a legitimate concern.”

“He had a number of places of employment in relation to solicitors and never fallen foul of illegitimate practices.”

He became aware that some people were charging £3,000 plus for advice about wills, trusts and power of attorney.

Mr Parry-Jones said: “His error was believing he could replicate that business and professional requirement by setting up his own business.

“His intention was to assist people. He did not set out to defraud.”

The person who had drafted the faulty documents for him was a trainee solicitor, he added.

“The defendant accepts he was totally misguided and ill prepared and should not have done what he did.”

Eaton’s two brothers were in the public gallery.

Mr Parry-Jones said that they came from an exemplary family and intend to ensure that the victims are recompensed as Eaton is unable to do so.


Businessman who ripped off vulnerable pensioners by selling fake wills is jailed
Samuel Eaton
May 28, 2015
Runcorn and Widnes World