Friday 9 December 2016

Car salesman accused of online lonely hearts scam 'left his wife bankrupt'

Richard Vernalls

Published 16/09/2015 | 17:43

Scales (stock)
Scales (stock)

A used car salesman accused of a conning a string of women out of over £180,000 in an internet lonely hearts scam left his wife bankrupt, a court has heard.

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Matthew Samuels who is on trial for fraud, told some victims he met through online dating websites he was "one of the richest men in the UK", according to prosecutors.

The Crown have claimed instead that Samuels was adept at "juggling" relationships "to obtain money" by fraudulent means.

The jury at Worcester Crown Court heard how "nice guy" Samuels was at one point having a three-way relationship under the same roof with his estranged wife and the stable girl he left her for.

He is accused of conning five women including a wealthy widow and a serving police detective, between 2011 and the summer of this year.

Former public school boy Samuels is also alleged to have cheated his step-son out of thousands of pounds over what prosecutors claimed was a dodgy car deal. He denies 11 counts of fraud.

At the 50-year-old's fraud trial, his ex-wife Caroline Morris told how she went bankrupt owing £150,000 after allowing him use of her credit cards and took out loans.

In a "messy" end to their relationship she lived as a menage-a-trois with Samuels and his new partner, Anne Marshall.

On the second day of his trial, the jury also heard from police officer Nicola Hampshire who is alleged to have been fleeced of nearly £12,000 by Samuels.

Ms Morris, from Lichfield, Staffordshire said she met the car salesman at a motor show in Earl's Court London in 1992. They went on to have seven children.

In 2003 the couple married and Samuels was written into her mortgage, re-financing the property for £111,000.

She claimed her "A1 credit rating" was wiped out by her former husband's spending over the next few years, and she divorced him in 2007 after finding out he had been unfaithful.

Ms Morris said: "He borrowed on every single I credit card I had, I had a (£20,000) M&S loan, I had American Express loan me some money, and almost paid M&S back and had to go bankrupt in the end."

By 2011, she said her and the children were "living like church mice" with the burden of debt, and was still now making repayments.

Bursting into tears, she said: "I suppose I loved him and wanted him to be with me, and I put up with him."

Sitting in the dock in a suit and tie Samuels, who was privately educated at Kind Edward's in Witley in Surrey, showed no emotion as his ex-wife wiped away her tears.

Under cross examination from Samuels' barrister Abigail Nixon, she was asked: "You agree the credit cards' use was with your permission.

"So even if there was £150,000 on your credit cards, that was all done with your knowledge and permission."

In her evidence, Ms Marshall, who had three children by Samuels, told the court she had been set up as a company director of a car sales businesses after he was barred from doing so by bankruptcy.

Ms Marshall, whom Samuels, his then wife and their children had met during a family day out at the stable, told the court she ended up being liable for two company accounts with overdrafts of £10,000 each.

She claimed their relationship ended in 2009, after finding out Samuels had had further children with ex Ms Morris.

Ms Nixon asked her: "But you moved into Caroline's home with Matthew and the three of you lived there effectively as a menage-a-trois didn't you?

"It turned out that way didn't it?"

Ms Marshall replied: "For a little while."

Samuels had run various car dealerships including two in Lichfield, Staffordshire; C&M Sales Ltd and Staffordshire Trade Sales Ltd, both of which went bust.

Later, serving police officer Ms Hampshire, who went by her married name Nicola Bull, told how she was contacted by Samuels on dating site MatchAffinity.com.

She found him "intelligent" and said: "I thought he was easy to talk to, a nice guy, quite friendly."

He gained her trust but then without her knowledge she claimed he spent thousands of pounds in loans, and credit cards and store cards, all in her name, conning her out of almost £12,000.

He is also accused of cheating mother-of-three Ann Ruddock, from Ledbury in Herefordshire, out of £45,000, and Alfreda Roberts, a 78-year-old widow from Ipswich out of £110,000 of the money her husband had left for her.

Opening the prosecution on Tuesday, Mr Walters said: "He has been shown to be adept at juggling a number of relationships simultaneously, the Crown would say using those relationships to obtain money from his partners either with or without their knowledge."

The trial of Samuels, of Broadway Grove, St Johns, Worcester, which is expected to last four weeks, continues.

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