Hugh Lansdell, a British lawyer who siphoned his clients’ money into a fraudulent lottery scheme, will serve four years in prison. The man was firmly convinced that he had won a jackpot and intended to return the money, only to realize that he had been the victim of a scam.
The 74-year-old was a devout believer who thought that the scam was an answer to his prayers. The fraudsters told him that he had won £825,000 from the Spanish Lottery but would need to pay certain taxes because he is not a citizen of Spain.
Never questioning the letter, Lansdell sent an initial payment of £41,000 to the fraudsters. However, they demanded further taxes, promising him a bigger prize every time. Eventually, the fraudsters promised Lansdell £10 million.
Unfortunately, the lawyer was incapable of paying the ever-increasing taxes alone and eventually began appropriating his clients’ money. Lansdell was a senior partner at Hansells where he embezzled £1.5 million. He was also a trustee at two charity organizations, from which he stole another £350,000.
The Prosecution Will Pursue Confiscation Proceedings
According to a psychological report presented to the court, Lansdell may have suffered from a mental condition that reinforced his religious beliefs, making him incapable of rationally interpreting reality.
As a result, the report says, Lansdell made some “very serious errors of judgment.”
Will Carter, Lansdell’s defense attorney, said that the man has lost everything, including his job and his wife. Lansdell is now bankrupt and lives alone, Carter pointed out, calling the case “tragic.”
According to the attorney, the ex-lawyer’s intentions were never malicious. Carter noted that Lansdell planned to return the embezzled money once he got his prize and invest the rest in renovations of his local church and the construction of a Norwich hostel.
However, the prosecution argued that Lansdell still resorted to lies and didn’t admit to embezzling money. Emma Beazley, a Crown Prosecution Service specialist prosecutor, said that when confronted by his colleagues, the man would make multiple excuses, even saying that he had invested the money into a beneficial scheme.
Beazley pointed out that Lansdell, a fraud victim himself, exploited the trust of his company and clients. She concluded that the CPS plans to pursue confiscation proceedings.