Fraudster to forfeit pension

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A FORMER bank manager, who stole £300,000 from vulnerable customers, has been ordered by a court to hand over money from his pension fund.

Jason Benham, 38, who was in charge at the Mildenhall branch of Lloyds TSB, has until May 21 to pay over the contents of his occupational pension fund, estimated at £56,110, to help repay the money gained from his crimes.

Benham, of Paynes Lane, Feltwell, was sentenced to four years in prison last April after he targeted customers he thought would not check their bank statements.

Last October he was ordered to forfeit £120,000 which was his share of his family home.

At Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday, Judge John Devaux gave Benham the May deadline to pay from the pension and the money from his house or face a further 18 months in prison.

Appearing for Benham, Jonathan Goodman told the court that contracts were due to be exchanged shortly on the house.

He said that fluctuations in the stock market could mean that the amount in Benham’s pension pot was less than the current value or even more, in which case any extra money would also be forfeited.

Benham had pleaded guilty to five offences of fraud by abuse of his position and one offence of obtaining a money transfer by deception between June 2005 and November last year.

In April the court heard that Benham had been living beyond his means when he persuaded customers to sign up for loans.

Those loans were supposed to pay off existing borrowings from the bank and offer better terms but in reality Benham siphoned off the cash for his own purposes.

The bank and police identified 48 separate customers affected by his dishonesty including members of his family and personal friends.