Abigail Cauce, 26, pretended to own wedding items in order to take money from brides-to-be who bought non-existing trinkets on Facebook
A crooked clairvoyant who preyed on brides-to-be by posting non-existing wedding trinkets for sale on Facebook was spared jail after a judge said her five children would ‘suffer’ if she went to jail.
Abigail Cauce, 26, called herself ‘the Luscious Laydee’ on Facebook, and pocketed money by advertising table decorations and wedding chair covers despite never owning them.
The court heard that innocent women were ‘enticed’ by the sales and went on to pay for items only to get nothing in return.
Police tracked down the mother-of-five, from Preston, Lancashire, and found she had a history of similar offending and had just been freed from a six month stretch for fraud.
At Burnley Crown Court in Lancashire, Caunce – who now has her own clairvoyancy page claiming to predict the future – admitted fraud and money laundering.
She thought she was facing jail but a judge let her go free with 33 weeks suspended for two years – ruling her children all aged under eight would ‘suffer greatly’ if she went to prison.
Her estranged husband Christopher Cauce, 28, of Chorley, was given a 12 month community order after he admitted money laundering.
Anthony Parkinson, prosecuting, said: ‘Mrs Caunce is the primary offender in this case.
‘She committed the respective frauds by setting up false Facebook accounts to advertise the sale of items that she never had in her possession or never had the intention to sell.
‘Innocent members of the public were enticed into the purchase of these items and they were told to send money into various bank accounts one belonging to Abigail and the others in relation to Christopher.
‘In simple terms the fraud was Miss Caunce advertising items that did not exist, for the buyers to transfer the money for the items two or three days later never to come to fruition.
‘She set up a number of fake accounts, a lot of wedding items were claims to be being sold including table decorations and chair covers, along with phones.
‘There were other instances of sophistication where Miss Caunce would buy an item from another seller but get one of her victims to transfer the money for the fake item into the sellers account, so she contributed nothing to the item she was purchasing.
The 26-year-old (pictured) pocketed money by advertising table decorations and wedding chair covers despite never owning them
She thought she was facing jail but a judge let her go free with 33 weeks suspended for two years
‘There is some evidence of sophistication in these offences and took a significant degree of planning and there were a lot of victims.’
The court heard bride-to-be Amy Davies was looking on a Facebook page called ‘wedding items for sale’ and saw a seller claiming to be Olivia Shakers post on the group claiming to be selling wedding table pieces and chair covers.
Miss Davies commented on a picture of the items saying that she was interested and was asked to pay £140 by bank transfer. But she got nothing through the post.
Another victim Tracy Trenhole was browsing a Facebook page called Cheap Shop and came across an advert for the sale of a tea and coffee vending machine for £50.
A private message was sent from the seller to Tracy, and she was asked to pay the fee into a Santander bank account belonging to butcher’s shop assistant Mr Caunce.
Mrs Caunce also arranged for of her witting victims to transfer money into the account of a woman who was trying to sell her a mobile phone.
Although Caunce received the phone, Paypal stopped the transaction leaving the seller out of pocket. Caunce made a total of £1,490 from the racket.
In a statement Miss Davies said: ‘I have suffered from anxiety after these offences. I had limited funds as I had been planning for my wedding at the time and this had a negative impact on me.
‘I never want to buy something from a Facebook page ever again after my experience.’
A judge ruled that her young children would ‘suffer greatly’ if she went to prison so she was given a suspended sentence
Her estranged husband Christopher Cauce, 28, (left) was given a 12 month community order after he admitted money laundering
Another victim Victoria White said she felt ‘anger’ towards Caunce and said she should be punished with a ‘custodial sentence with no privileges.’
But in mitigation defence lawyer Helen Longworth said: ‘This wasn’t offending where it let Abigail Caunce live a luxurious life and the victims have been able to recover, in terms of emotionally.
‘She has set up a legitimate clairvoyancy business which has been registered to the HMRC and she says that she has completed a tax return.
‘She now has an understanding of how to live an adult life and how her victims must have felt to have lost the money that they worked hard for. She wants to pay back the money that she has taken.
‘She is remorseful. She also has five children under the age of eight who she cares for and who live with her.
‘They have a number of different needs. If she were to go to prison then she would lose her local authority tenancy and it would distress the children.’
Passing sentence Judge Ian Leeming QC said: ‘You were the fraudster Abigail Caunce.
Cauce (pictured) now has her own clairvoyancy page claiming to help predict the future
Caunce (with her husband Christopher) was exposed as a shameless fraudster who called herself ‘the Luscious Laydee’
‘You advertised the sale of goods you never intended to sell or never in fact had on a number of Facebook sites and other social media networks or similar facilities.
‘One of the accounts was specifically to do with wedding items, and reception items.
‘The common feature was that disgracefully you didn’t own any of the items – in fact they didn’t exist.
‘Each item was a modest sum, but it could have been significant to each of the victims.
‘By the time they had not received the items the victims would try to go back on the page to find that it had been closed down and you had gone elsewhere or you made your excuses.
‘The sophistication was considerable. You duped someone who was purchasing an item off you to pay a legitimate seller, who was left with no item or money.
‘But you have not been well and have had changes in your life and you are genuinely remorseful.
‘Sentencing you to immediate custody would affect your tenancy and your children would suffer greatly from this. These are the circumstances that I feel it is appropriate to apply a suspended sentence.’
Mrs Caunce will also have to pay costs of £500 plus compensation of £1490.50. her husband was also ordered to complete 100 hours unpaid work and pay £260 costs.