A woman who stole £46,700 of her estranged husband using his bank cards as he slept was herself scammed of all the money in an internet romance scam.
Patricia Passman, known as Tricia, sent Amazon vouchers and funds to an online love interest in the US who lied that they had a future together.
The grandmother, 59, had split from husband Tim – who she had three children and grandchildren with – after 40 years of marriage, a Teesside crown court heard, but she still lived with him and was secretary for his firm, Passman Pipe Inspection Services.
Prosecutor Jenny Haigh said that Passman admitted stealing the money from her husband, 66, from January 2019 to January 2021 which left him in ‘financial ruin, with tax bills and accountancy fees to pay’ when he thought he had at least £70,000 in his personal account.
Thomas Bennett, defending, said Passman was embarrassed and ashamed of her actions and was ‘not streetwise’, as she had fallen victim to an online scam and lost the money.
He said the former couple’s children are all adults now, and so haven’t suffered from her thefts.
The lawyer said his client would pay her ex-partner back if she had the funds, but Passman, from Redcar, has no assets, works part time and on social security benefits.
Sentencing her to a suspended 18-month jail term and 200 hours’ unpaid work, Judge Jamie Hill said she was ‘living in some sort of bubble’ and ‘took your husband’s financial welfare’.
But he added that the defendant was ‘naive’ and had ‘shown remorse’.