A Whitehaven woman in England sent £11,500 from her husband’s bank account to a man in Nigeria she had met through Facebook.
Jane Pope, of Hensingham, admitted fraud by false representation and theft after using her husband Michael’s bank details to send £4,000 and a £7,500 loan to the man – who she continues to speak to.
At West Cumbria Magistrates today (Friday), the 55-year-old was handed a 180 day prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to undergo 45 days of rehabilitation.
Prosecutor Pamela Fee said Mrs Pope had paid the money to a man she believed lived in Nigeria, adding Mr Pope had “no knowledge” of the transactions as she managed the finances for both herself and her husband.
She said Mrs Pope had filled out a loan application online and sent a cheque from the cheque book of her husband.
Michael Woolaghan, defending, said Mrs Pope had “developed an internet based relationship with a man in Nigeria”.
He said she was “particularly vulnerable” and had “bizarre views” about what the relationship involved.
A probation report, read out in court, said Mrs Pope is “quite isolated” and her Facebook friend had been “able to exercise quite significant control”.
It said she “got things she didn’t get in her own relationship” from the friendship, including being able to discuss her problems and “compliments”.
The court heard how the scammer had originally posed as a white, British man when he added Mrs Pope as a friend.
Her husband had warned her “this sounds like a scam” but she continued to speak to him.
Mrs Pope became “jealous” of the man speaking to other people and “wanted to provide him with money”.
The report said she was “remorseful” and “aware of the impacts her actions have had on her husband” but “she continues to talk to this man abroad”.
Claire Kirkpatrick, who was also defending, said Mrs Pope was “incredibly trusting” and “incredibly kind”, saying she “genuinely hopes she is more special than the others”.
The solicitor said her client had tried to stop talking to the man but he had threatened to send “very personal photographs” to her Facebook friends.
Handing out the sentence, district judge Gerald Chalk said there had been a “clear breach of trust”.
He described Mrs Pope as a “particularly vulnerable individual”, who had been “manipulated” but said she knew “perfectly well” what she was doing was wrong.
“You’ve been used,” he said, adding “you’re being a fool to yourself” by continuing to speak to the man. “I don’t want you back in the dock again.”
She was also ordered to pay £200 in court costs and a victim surcharge.