Con man tricked cancer victim out of £92,000

  • Scheming Michael Cremin worked as a paralegal but pretended to be a barrister 
  • He claimed to have a law degree but had no legal qualifications whatsoever
  • Conman threatened to sue a victim for defamation after they questioned him 
  • He spent nearly quarter of a million pounds on new cars with money he stole
  • One of his victims said the stress he caused could have made her cancer worse  

By Stewart Paterson For Mailonline

Published: 11:34 EDT, 21 August 2017 | Updated: 12:17 EDT, 21 August 2017

Conman and fantasist: Michael Cremin managed to rake in millions for himself by pretending to be a barrister 
Conman and fantasist: Michael Cremin managed to rake in millions for himself by pretending to be a barrister 

Conman and fantasist: Michael Cremin managed to rake in millions for himself by pretending to be a barrister 

A 'fantasist' who targeted a terminally ill woman to buy a fleet or pricey motors has been found guilty of posing as a barrister.

A fraudster was today found guilty of posing as a barrister to con victims including a terminally ill woman out of thousands of pounds - to buy flash cars.

Scheming Michael Cremin, 41, worked as a paralegal but advertised himself as a barrister and was even listed on a chambers website.

He claimed to have a law degree from the University of London although he had no legal qualifications.

Cremin even threatened to sue one of his victims for defamation when she questioned his actions.

He preyed on one victim breast cancer sufferer Sandra Burch, 51, and scammed nearly £100,000 from her and her partner.

Ms Burch had sought legal advice after deciding to buy a plot of land to help a pal who was being evicted.

She turned to Cremin after researching his credentials online and being satisfied he was legitimate.

But rather than helping the vulnerable woman, Cremin pocketed the cash she believed she was investing, and bought a series of cars.

He spent £29,000 on a Volkswagen Scirocco, and acquired at least 14 high-end cars on finance - totting up to over £330,000.

The greedy fraudster, of Cirencester, Gloucestershire, was described by cops as a 'fantasist'. 

He spent £29,000 on a Volkswagen Scirocco, and acquired at least 14 high-end cars on finance - totting up to over £330,000
He spent £29,000 on a Volkswagen Scirocco, and acquired at least 14 high-end cars on finance - totting up to over £330,000

He spent £29,000 on a Volkswagen Scirocco, and acquired at least 14 high-end cars on finance - totting up to over £330,000

Cremin was convicted of six counts of fraud and one count of pretending to be a barrister after a trial at Bristol Crown Court. 

He will be sentenced tomorrow.

The court heard he impersonated a barrister on multiple occasions, on one occasion adopting the name of a real lawyer and writing to a couple in Ross-on-Wye. 

He duped them into believing they had breached planning regulations by erecting posts on a public bridleway.

And he forced an elderly couple who he rented from to spend £20,000 on legal fees by disputing their right to inspect the property. 

The couple, who had invested in the house as part of their retirement plans, were forced to fight in the County Court — and even the Court of Appeal — before he was evicted. 

Another one of the cars the conman managed to purchase after swindling his victims out of huge amounts of cash 
Another one of the cars the conman managed to purchase after swindling his victims out of huge amounts of cash 

Another one of the cars the conman managed to purchase after swindling his victims out of huge amounts of cash 

The stress took a toll on his victims' health, and it was later discovered that heartless Cremin had provided fake employment references to a letting agency.

Cancer sufferer Ms Burch, from near Salisbury, Wiltshire, spoke out to warn other people that they could fall victim to fraud.

She said the stress of Cremin's actions made her fear her tumours would grow — and wrecked the chance of her having treatment abroad. 

He even threatened to sue her for defamation when she questioned his actions.

Ms Burch said: 'A friend needed some financial help. He was going to be evicted from his property and land but he had been there a long time.

Yet another car: The fantasist was today found guilty of posing as a barrister to con a terminally ill woman out of her life savings to by the pricey motors
Yet another car: The fantasist was today found guilty of posing as a barrister to con a terminally ill woman out of her life savings to by the pricey motors

Yet another car: The fantasist was today found guilty of posing as a barrister to con a terminally ill woman out of her life savings to by the pricey motors

'We said we would help him but only if we stood a chance of buying the property. The money was my pension pot and little bit of money my partner had saved. 

'At the time I'd been given 18 months, which are the statistics for secondary breast cancer. In April 2015 I left work so my salary went down to nothing - just a pension, which was enough to buy food and what have you.

'I was hoping the investment would give me an income and when I faced chemo I could stay home.

'That was our goal really, to stay at home and have that reassurance that we had that investment and if I needed to cash it in we could do for treatment overseas. Now I don't have that option.

'I've now gone back to work three days a week, just to have money. I enjoy working but this person took all my options away from me.

'Every time I had a CT scan I was worried the cancer had grown because of the stress this person had put me through.'

She added: 'When you are diagnosed with secondary breast cancer your anxiety levels are at a peak. All you worry about is the future and how you will leave your loved ones.

'It was an awful time for me to go through this and secondly to admit to my partner that the only funds we had were lost. It was horrendous, absolutely horrendous.

Cancer sufferer Sandra Burch, from near Salisbury, Wiltshire, spoke out to warn other people that they could fall victim to fraud
Cancer sufferer Sandra Burch, from near Salisbury, Wiltshire, spoke out to warn other people that they could fall victim to fraud

Cancer sufferer Sandra Burch, from near Salisbury, Wiltshire, spoke out to warn other people that they could fall victim to fraud

'I've always believed in trusting people. This person came across as a professional. He made me feel he was there helping me.

'I think he was hoping my prognosis was shorter so he would benefit even more from my funds. It was devastating.

'There isn't a day that goes by I don't think about it. I stood in court with 12 people looking at me, thinking they must think I'm a complete idiot.

'I always thought my family and friends would think I'm a complete idiot. But I did my best and looking back now, I researched him, he came across as a professional, he had qualifications after name.

'I don't even know if I could back go back in time would I have done anything differently.

'I really don't know. I did what any logical person would have done.

'The problem is he made a fool of me and took advantage of someone who really shouldn't have been taken advantage of.'

Detective Sergeant Dave Fryatt said: 'Cremin was what you might call a 'paralegal' - he wasn't a barrister or solicitor but had taught himself a lot about the law and was involved in the legal system.

'The problem is he overegged his position and introduced letters after his name suggesting he was a doctor of law.

'He then never sought to correct anyone who believed he was a genuine solicitor or barrister.

'In Sandra's case she was trying to buy land from a family friend who had been declared bankrupt.

'Cremin was recommended and it made sense to her to use him, especially after she checked him out online, where he advertised himself as a lawyer and advocate.

'Anyone could have made the same mistake as Sandra.

'She was incredibly brave in coming forward as Cremin even threatened to take legal action against her for defamation when she challenged him.

'We did manage to freeze some of Cremin's accounts during the investigation and are trying to ensure some money is returned to Sandra but it will only be a fraction of what she lost.

'Fraud hurts and isn't just about money. It causes anxiety, stress and pain and victims often say it feels like a physical assault.

'There is a danger people think that Cremin only caused harm to corporate entitles like Toyota but there have been some really personal cases here that have led to a lot of personal anguish and distress.

'Cremin was a fantasist and vindictive when challenged.

'Now we just want the public to be aware of the issues this case raises to stop anyone else getting away with the same thing.'

 

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By World Staff Writer 08/21/2017 12:17:00