We’ve all been there – you’re chatting to someone new, things are going well, you’ve seen a few photos and then you spot their ‘tagged pictures’ and things take a dramatic u-turn.
Alright – looks aren’t that important but they’re still up there with some of the priorities lets not tell fibs now. But what can be worse than someone not being quite as hot as you initially thought – finding out they’re a complete different person altogether maybe?
Which is what happened to Sharon Brown. She was messaged by ‘Kenny Johnson’ – y’know the one from S.W.A.T, Dexter and Sons of Anarchy. Or so she thought she was contacted by him anyway.
The lonely gran couldn’t believe her luck when he got in touch on Instagram and the pair chatted for three months, with him calling her ‘an amazing fan’ and ‘the woman of his dreams’.
Sharon, 56, was sceptical at first but she allowed herself to believe it was the real deal.
The divorced mum-of-two ended up handing over £34,000 after ‘Kenny’ gave her a sob story explaining that he needed money to replace a damaged movie camera.
The Mirror reported that she took out a £10,000 ($13,000) bank loan, borrowed £20,000 ($26,500) from her 91-year-old uncle and added another £4,000 ($5,000) on a credit card.
Kenny was of course a conman but the penny only dropped for the £282-a week payroll clerk when another ‘Kenny’ contacted her on Facebook. What are the chances?
Sharon told the Mirror: “I feel a fool for falling for such a scam. This guy flattered me and I believed he was Kenny. He was so convincing.
“He kept saying he loved me – and like an idiot I believed him.”
She was targeted after she started following Kenny Johnson (the real one) on his official Instagram account which has 140,000 followers and the blue tick is a giveaway as well.
In November, Sharon then received a personal message from a similar account (but one that only has 80 followers). The message read: “Thank you for all your love and supports.”
Sharon didn’t respond – she knew what was going on here. Then, three days later another message pinged through asking: “Have you been watching Swat?”
The singleton eventually replied saying ‘yes’ and they began chatting from there.
When she was doubting his authenticity, she asked for a selfie and he suggested a video call which won her over her.
She explained: “I saw a video of Kenny on his bed. His mouth was moving, but there was no sound. It convinced me he was genuine. I thought ‘why is he interested in a divorced granny from Ipswich?’ But I told him I was there for him and started to call him ‘baby’.
“We swapped pictures. He called me ‘honey’ and said I was beautiful. I told him, ‘I have not even met you and I love you’.”
The Mirror reported that the con artist told Sharon, who had been single for 20 years, that he had orphanages in the US, Turkey and Africa so she offered to donate £180 which she sent to different accounts, with one being Nigeria.
When it came to him telling her that he needed money to replace a camera, Sharon, who lives with her 86-year-old dad, got a £10,000 car loan from the Halifax.
She borrowed money from her uncle which she told him was a start-up loan for her to work in the film industry, instead sending it to a Turkish account on 17 January.
Sharon was advised not to send the cash: “My oldest daughter had said, ‘Don’t do it’ and my youngest one said it was a scam – but I had already sent the money.”
Sharon reported the crime to the police but doubts she’ll see the money again, adding: “I feel terrible as I’ve let down myself and my family. Now I want to warn other women about the fraudsters out there.”