Vulnerable Preston couple's family speak as con artist who blew their savings on 'hair transplants and high living' is ordered to pay back ill gotten gains

A serial fraudster who sold the home of a dementia stricken couple behind their back has been ordered to pay back £307,759.08 of his ill gotten gains.

Monday, 13th July 2020, 1:21 pm

Syed Arfat Bukhari, 39, told Preston Crown Court he blew the cash on hair transplants, dental work, first class flights to Dubai, renting Lamborghini sports cars, and jewellery after fleecing an elderly man, 83, and his wife, 84, out of £350,000.

He was previously jailed for seven years and 11 months after admitting fraud, and will also serve five years and seven months for another fraud involving faking his own death to claim a £1m insurance payout.

The victim's son, Graham Worsnopp, spoke about the extraordinary investigation as a judge warned Bukhari he would face three further years in prison - on top of the time he is already serving - if he didn't pay the amount within three months.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Syed Bukhari

How the couple met Bukhari remains a mystery but the family believes the details of the retired Merchant Navy man and his wife were either sold to him or they were cold called.

He went on to redirect their mail and landline calls and pose as their 'adopted son' to officials.

After befriending them, Bukhari, who last known address was in Manchester, secretly emptied the Fulwood couple's bank and building society accounts, took credit cards out in their name and defrauded their investment and savings accounts.

Mr Worsnopp, whose family has endured more than two years of trauma at Bukhari's hands, said: " If someone had made a drama on TV, people still wouldn't believe it.

"The sad thing is their condition has actually protected them because they don't know what has happened, they don't even know about the Covid situation.

The family had to instruct a private solicitor after receiving a letter saying the couple, who have four children and seven grandchildren between them, had a week to leave their home because the new owner was moving in.

They also received letters informing them the gentlemen owed a credit card debt, and had to contact around 15 financial institutions to deal with the aftermath.

After the probe the Land Registry transferred the ownership back across and refunded the person who had bought the house.

Since their ordeal began, the couple's health has declined further and they are on a waiting list for a care home.

Mr Worsnopp added: "The judge's order is closure in a way - it puts a full stop on things.

"But the unresolved matter is how did he target my dad in the first place? "

"His victims, including the person who bought the house, are still £70,000 short between them, and we still don't believe he'll cough up the money - we're all waiting in a queue.

"We think he has it hidden waiting for him in Pakistan somewhere."

Judge Simon Newell determined Bukhari benefitted to the tune of £561,058.58, of which £307,759.08 is available for the authorities to seize under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

It is believed to include proceeds from the £160,000 sale of the couple's home, the proceeds of selling two BMWs and jewellery - including Rolex watches - which he pawned.

The financial hearing suffered several delays as Bukhari sacked his legal team, or submitted paperwork late.