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A confidence trickster embezzles funds of a debt counselling charity faces jail (2 April 2013)

Date: 02/04/2013
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, A confidence trickster embezzles funds of a debt counselling charity faces jail

A conman who committed a £78,000 fraud on a Bradford-based debt counselling charity and its vulnerable clients is facing the prospect of being sent to the prison as the judge warned.
Simon Warner-Hodgkin who took up a job as a team leader with Christians Against Poverty after lying about his academic and financial qualifications had siphoned off the charity’s bank accounts, Bradford Crown Court was told.
He gained the trust of staff at the charity and its customers many of who were in great need of financial advice and dishonestly embezzled money around of which, around £30,000 has not been returned.
Warner-Hodgkin, also known as Simon Hemmingfield, was on bail awaiting sentence on April 23 after pleading guilty to two offences of fraud.
He admitted that, between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010, he abused his position of team leader with the charity by transferring money from numerous client accounts into his accounts.
Warner-Hodgkin also pleaded guilty to making a false representation that he had a BA Honours degree in Bible Studies and Church Leadership and a Masters degree in Theology and that he was qualified to give mortgage advice, on December 16, 2007.
He was on the court list under the name Hemmingfield but he told the court clerk he was now known as Warner-Hodgkin. His case was adjourned for the preparation of a report from the probation service.
Warner-Hodgkin, now of Saltdene Vale, Saltdene, Brighton, had his bail renewed by Judge Colin Burn who told him that it was likely that he would be sent to prison and he must be ready for it.
Prosecutor Bashir Ahmed said Warner-Hodgkiin was creaming off the charity’s funds and some of its clients had their accounts defrauded.
He had breached the trust of a charity that helped people manage their debts and deal with their financial problems.
After the court hearing, Matt Barlow, chief executive of Christians Against Poverty, said thankfully it was not often that charities had to deal with someone like Hodgkins. It was a shocking and sad thing for everyone.
He thanked his workforce who despite Simon’s actions kept their focus on the needs of the most vulnerable people in the UK the clients who rely on the charity to give them the most thorough, and most caring, free debt counselling.”
Christians Against Poverty has 21 church-based centres across Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.
It offers a lifeline to more than 1,000 clients in financial crisis each year.

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