Elizabeth Smith (pictured), 52, had been trading as Waves Estates in Rye, Sussex. She was asked by Joan Cannon, of St Leonards, to help find a property she could live in with her autistic son by the sea. Cannon gave Smith £160,000 to complete the purchase of the property.
However, Smith instead kept the money herself, spending it on expensive holidays and a new car. Much of the money stolen has not been recovered.
Smith admitted to fraud by abuse of position between 2018 and 2019 in court earlier this year, with Cannon present. However, Cannon, 82, died shortly afterwards.
When Smith was caught, she claimed to have terminal cancer in a bid to gain sympathy, but this was later exposed as a lie.
Detective Sergeant Mitchell Humby of Sussex Policy said this was a “heartless fraud” on an elderly and vulnerable person.
He continued: “It only came to light when the victim became suspicious of the transactions passing through her account and the person from whom she was buying the property became concerned as to why she wasn’t receiving the money in payment.
“The trial was then delayed for court scheduling Covid-related reasons but the victim followed the case, so she eventually saw Smith admit her guilt and be remanded in custody to await sentencing. However, tragically Joan died only a few days later.”