Alsager fraudster Christine Stevens posed as counsellor to deceive grief stricken mother
FRAUDSTER Christine Stevens posed as a counsellor to take cash from a grief-stricken mother who had suffered two miscarriages.
The 47-year-old claimed to be a council's head of therapeutic services to trick Lisa Williams into paying out £185 for nine counselling sessions after the pair met on Facebook.
But when the victim contacted Cheshire East Council to complain she was not receiving suitable advice, Stevens's cruel deception was uncovered.
Stevens who has previous convictions for dishonesty, even used the council's logo on e-mails and invoices sent to Mrs Williams who lost two babies in the space of a few months last year.
Save 10% off any cleaner ending 7p with this voucher
i.e. £99.97 would save you £10
All the top brands, Dyson,Miele,Siemens,Panasonic,Sebo,Numatic & more
Clean up with our Sring Cleaner offer
Print this voucher and hand in at any store to save 10% off any 7p pricepoint
Shop local and you can always get the belts etc from us as well so you arn't left searching for them.
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Saturday, June 08 2013
Mrs Williams, aged 39, from Alsager, today said the ordeal meant she didn't trust people now. She added: "It has affected me deeply and caused me major anguish, distress and upset. It has made me aware there are people out there who will do things like this."
The court heard Stevens, who stated her occupation on the social networking site, carried out the fraud between August and October last year.
She even left the initials of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) at the end of correspondence to suggest she was an accredited member of the body.
Anne Roues, prosecuting at South Cheshire Magistrates Court yesterday, said: "The victim had been feeling extremely down and decided to seek counselling. This was a lady going for help and believing she would pay for a service and would receive one. She gave out confidential information which has caused her substantial anxiety."
But after a number of sessions, Mrs Williams asked Stevens for her office number and the name of her manager to make a complaint.
Mrs Roues said: "The defendant said she didn't have an office land line and the complainant became suspicious."
Stevens, of Lower Heath Avenue, Congleton, was arrested on February 4. In her police interview, she said she was unemployed but classed herself as a private counsellor. She admitted having no links to the council or being a member of the BACP. She then pleaded guilty to fraud by misrepresentation.
Stuart Flood, defending, said Stevens had qualified as a counsellor in July and presented the certificates during yesterday's hearing.
He said: "She is adamant that when she spoke to Lisa she said she was a private counsellor but certain e-mails were sent that would give her the impression she was working for the council. Lisa was her first client.
"I don't think my client set out to deceive anyone."
Magistrates ordered Stevens to pay back the cash and carry out 120 hours of unpaid work. She was also made the subject of a 12-month supervision order and told to pay £85 costs and a £65 victim surcharge.