A fraudster who targeted vulnerable people in east London has been jailed.

IT contractor and former charity worker Graham Broomfield was handed a five-year prison sentence at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday, 20 September after he previously pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position.

The 54-year-old from Tye Green Village, Harlow worked as an IT contractor for charity Reaching Out East before being taken on as a direct payments worker which allowed him to access funds that were meant for vulnerable people to live on.

He obtained £550,745 from at least 95 disabled or at risk people over a period of 18 months - between August 18, 2016 and February 28, 2018.

Reaching Out East, a charity that supported Londoners who are physically or mentally disabled, ran a fundholding service for those who received money from Waltham Forest Council but who were unable to manage their money themselves.

The service transfers money onto a payment card similar to a debit card, which is then used to purchase social care services. Any unused money is returned to the council.

Broomfield's crimes came to light in March 2018. While he was suspended by the charity for a separate matter, a colleague noticed three unidentified payments made through the charity’s payment portal.

The charity began disciplinary action against Broomfield while Waltham Forest Council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team and the Metropolitan Police investigated the matter.

The money was traced to a bank where Broomfield held his personal account.

He had transferred more than £109,000 to a Nationwide account and £432,000 was transferred from the charity’s portal to a separate Nationwide account.

Broomfield was able to overwrite his bank details on the system but still maintain the providers details thereby disguising the fact the funds were being paid to a different account, the council said.

He was arrested by officers on April 11 last year and charged on June 19 this year.

Waltham Forest Council said it is taking every action to recover the funds.

Detective Sergeant Gemma Cole, from the Met Police's specialist crime command, said: “Broomfield’s crimes were particularly contemptible as he held a position within a charity. He used his role to gain the trust of some of London’s most vulnerable members of the community.

“During the investigation, which was led by the North East Economic Crime Hub, we were able to work collaboratively with outside agencies including the local council to bring him to justice, resulting in this custodial sentence.

“We will continue to work on a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) financial investigation in an attempt to retrieve his ill-gained assets.”