‘I felt sick!’ Retired widow loses £40,000 after ‘looking for companionship’

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Retired nursery nurse Di Pogson, from Holmfirth enjoyed 30 years of happy marriage before her husband developed a brain aneurism and died. A few years later, Di decided to join an online dating website in the hope of “finding companionship”.

She eventually received a message from a man who used a fake identity and alias of ‘Kevin Thompson’. The two exchanged life stories and photographs. Over time they grew closer and she ended up sending him £40,000, and taking out £20,000 loan for him.

She said: “He seemed genuinely interested in me as a person and not just wanting a one night stand.”

On the BBC programme For Love or Money, Kym Marsh and Ashley John-Baptiste spoke to Di about her situation, and how she managed to move on from this horrific time in her life.

Di explained that Kevin claimed to be an international businessman, a dog lover, just like her. Shortly after they met, he said he flew to China on a business trip and put his dog into kennels while he was away.

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The first time he asked her for money was for his dog. He told Di that his dog became sick at the kennels and the vet needed money for the treatment.

Di asked Kevin why he couldn’t pay the £450 bill himself, but she said he told her that his cards had not been working since he got to China. Kevin promised to pay Di back, hopefully in person.

Over time, their relationship became more intense and the pair planned to meet in London once Kevin returned from China.

Di said: “He told me he thought he was falling in love with me and that he had very strong feelings for me.

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“He couldn’t wait to meet the family, and couldn’t wait for the dogs to get together and go for nice walks. All the things you do as a couple.”

But Kevin’s requests for cash started to snowball. He claimed he had hit some trouble with the Chinese authorities and needed money for legal expenses.

Fully invested in Kevin, Di was transferring Kevin thousands of pounds and not telling a soul.

After five weeks, Di had transferred Kevin £40,000. She had used all of her money she received after her husband’s death, all of her savings and also taken out a £20,000 loan.

She continued: “There was always the ‘You will get it back’. There seemed to be something in it because we got on really well.”

Di said she had no reason to believe that Kevin would not keep to his word and pay her back when they met in London. He told her he would bring a cheque of £60,000 , enough to cover what he owed her and the interest she was paying on the loan.

However when it came to meeting up, Kevin never showed up.

“I was extremely upset,” Di said.

She added: “I felt let down and extremely disappointed.”

Despite not showing up, Kevin was still requesting money, and asked Di to pawn her wedding rings. It was after she refused to do this that he stopped contact.

Realising she had been scammed, Di filed a statement with the police and reported her situation to Action Fraud.

“I felt sick because having to tell someone you’ve been stupid and having to admit it was dreadful,” she said.

DC Rebecca Mason investigated this case and uncovered that it was in fact a group of people who were behind the scam, and that had stolen Di’s money.

DC Mason mentioned three members of the group but there were other people associated with the crime. The scammers revealed on the programme were sentenced to a total of ten years in prison in July 2019.

Di’s case was the first in the UK to see a criminal gang convicted of romance scam crimes.