Two Northampton women have been spared jail after their bank accounts were used to hide tens of thousands of pounds of stolen money.
Nearly £39,000 of defrauded money were moved into the bank accounts of Charlotte Farmer, from Dallington, and Sara Mann, from Hardingstone, as part of a money laundering scheme.
Northampton Crown Court heard yesterday (November 9) how the money was cleaned out of a victim's account after he was phoned by someone claiming to be from the 'National Fraud Agency' in a seperate incident.
Prosecutor James Bide-Thomas QC told the court: "[The victim] was told to transfer all the money out of their account to prevent fraudsters getting to it.
"The irony being, this was used to defraud the victim."
As a result, £20,400 was moved into Farmer's account, while another £18,400 was stashed in Mann's bank.
But the court heard how when Farmer, 38, saw her then-partner had dropped the funds into her account, she was told not to touch it.
This led her to suspect the money was the product of crime. She did not spend any of the money and it was shortly transferred out.
Meanwhile, Mann, 27, incidentally spent a portion of illegitimate funds in her account. Her defence barrister told the court she had 'learned her lesson' and was 'unlikely' to reappear in court again.
Nearly all of the money was later recovered by the bank's fraud team. Farmer and Mann were subsequently charged with concealing criminal property.
In sentencing, Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking told the two women: "Every year, people have their bank accounts cleared out of their hard earned money. And the reality is that cannot be done unless other people help that process, wittingly or not.
"But money doesn't come for free and you cannot expect it to lie in your bank account and take money from other people."
However, Judge Lucking said that immediate prison sentences would not be the 'right' way to punish the two women's involvement.
Farmer was handed a two-year community order and must attend 30 days of rehabilitation work.
Mann was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years, as well as 100 hours of unpaid work.