Retired nursing nurse Di Pogson, from Holmfirth, enjoyed 30 years of happy marriage before her husband developed a brain aneurysm and died. A few years later, Ella Di Ella decided to join an online dating website in hopes of “finding company.”
He eventually received a message from a man using a false 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 a £20,000 loan for him.
She said: “He seemed genuinely interested in me as a person and didn’t just want a one night stand.
On the BBC’s For Love or Money, Kym Marsh and Ashley John-Baptiste spoke to Di about her situation and how she got through this horrible time in her life.
Di explained that Kevin claimed to be an international businessman, a dog lover, like her. Shortly after they met, she said that she flew to China on a business trip and put her dog in kennels while she was away.
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The first time he asked for money was for his dog. She told Di that her dog got sick at the kennel and that the vet needed money for treatment.
Di asked Kevin why he couldn’t pay the £450 bill himself, but she said he told her his cards hadn’t worked since he arrived in China. Kevin promised to pay Di back, hopefully in person.
Over time, their relationship became more intense and the couple planned to meet in London once Kevin returned from China.
Di said, “He told me that 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 he 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 began to increase. He claimed that he had had problems with the Chinese authorities and needed money for legal expenses.
Fully invested in Kevin, Di wired Kevin thousands of pounds and didn’t tell anyone.
After five weeks, Di wired Kevin £40,000. She had used all the money she received after her husband’s death, all her savings and she also got a £20,000 loan.
She continued, “There was always the ‘You’ll get it back.’ There seemed to be something to that because we got along so well.”
Di said she had no reason to believe that Kevin would go back on his word and pay her back when they met in London. He told her that he would bring a check for £60,000, enough to cover what he owed her and the interest she was paying on her loan.
However, when it came to meeting, Kevin never showed up.
“I was extremely upset,” Di said.
She added: “I felt let down and extremely disappointed.”
Despite not showing up, Kevin kept asking for money and asked Di to pawn her wedding rings. It was after she refused to do this that he stopped contact.
Realizing that she had been scammed, Di filed a statement with the police and reported her situation to Action Fraud.
“I felt bad because having to tell someone you’ve been stupid and having to admit it was terrible,” he said.
DC Rebecca Mason investigated this case and found that it was in fact a group of people behind the scam who 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 show 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 fraud offences.