Fraudster Irene Kitto scammed £35,000 from friends - but has to pay back just £1

Irene Kitto
Irene Kitto

A “cruel” fraudster who conned her friends out of £35,000 has been made to pay back just £1 in compensation.

Irene Kitto, 57, a healthcare assistant in Scarborough, was jailed for two years last year for her wicked scheme but on Friday a judge ordered that she repay a solitary pound - a nominal fee on account of her desperate financial situation.

At a previous court hearing which led to Kitto’s imprisonment, the court heard that she had borrowed tens of thousands from three close friends on the false premise that she would repay them when she received a lump-sum NHS pension pay-out following her retirement.

In fact, there was no such payment due, but Kitto’s friends - two of them fellow nurses - had no idea they were being duped.

Over nearly two years, Kitto - who worked at the Cross Lane mental-health unit - ‘borrowed’ £35,552 from her best friends, telling each one not to tell the others that she had received any loans. During her scheme, she used some of the money to bask in a lavish holiday.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp told York Crown Court that Kitto, who worked in the NHS for over 30 years, had been paying into a pension scheme but had “little or no” pension entitlement. However, she told the three middle-aged victims that she was due a “substantial sum” in the hundreds of thousands.

“But she said there was a problem in being paid out, so she asked these three people repeatedly for loans to tide her over,” said Mr Sharp.

She told one of the female victims that she was due a large pension pay-out because she had been paying bigger contributions after her husband fell ill and was unable to work.

The brazen fraudster even showed her friends documents purporting that she was entitled to a pension windfall.

Kitto had forged the documentation but the once-highly-regarded healthcare worker “beguiled” her friends into believing they were genuine.

Kitto, who “preyed” on their trust and friendship, duped one of the victims out of £17,000 between September 2016 and October 2017, at which point the victim had no money left to loan her.

“When (the victim’s) money was about to run out, (Kitto) moved on to two further victims,” added Mr Sharp.

One of them loaned her friend £8,600 in “17 tranches”, and another victim lent her £9,952, trying to help her friend despite being so concerned as to ask her to sign an ‘IOU’.

Crafty Kitto “rather cynically” wrote an addendum to the ‘IOU’ instructing her husband - who was blissfully unaware of the ruse - to “please pay her out of my pension”.

“The defendant persuaded (one of the victims) to pay £4,500 for a holiday for four people to celebrate the defendant’s retirement,” added Mr Sharp.

Kitto, of Wheelhouse Square, Scarborough, even told her friends she had hired a solicitor to iron out “difficulties there had been in in the lump-sum being paid out”.

Her duplicity began to unravel in July last year when she was supposed to meet one of the victims at a local bank to repay the money, but she didn’t turn up.

One of the victims - including a student nurse who said Kitto was once her “role model” - said she had been affected “emotionally and financially”.

Another victim had received counselling to help her cope with her friend’s betrayal. She had taken out a large loan to lend Kitto money and everything she earned was now used to repay that debt.

Kitto owned up immediately following her arrest for the grand hoax. She admitted three counts of fraud between August 2016 and July 2018.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC branded Kitto’s deception “cruel” but at the financial-confiscation hearing on Friday he ordered her to repay just £1 due to her limited financial means.