Lonely hearts fraud accused 'scammed woman out of father's inheritance'
Published 21/09/2015 | 14:41
An alleged internet lonely hearts love rat is accused of scamming a woman out of her father's inheritance after tricking her into thinking he had paid off her debts, a court has heard.
Anne Ruddock claimed 50-year-old Matthew Samuels took a chunk of her windfall "to invest" telling her he would "keep it safe" and promising to use some of the cash to pay off her existing creditors.
However, the mother-of-three told a jury at Worcester Crown Court how she had felt like wanting "to die" after he left owing £21,946 to debtors.
The 47-year-old broke down in the dock and said: "It was horrendous.
"I had no job, lied to my children, lied to the few close friends I had left, about everything, it was horrendous. Awful."
In a desperate plea to Samuels to return her cash she told him in autumn 2013: "I have to face my family - I've lost everything."
He replied: "I've invested it, I told you. Good grief."
Former public school boy Samuels is accused of conning five women - most of whom he met through online dating - and his own stepson out of more than £180,000.
He denies 11 counts of fraud.
The Crown's case is that father-of-10 Samuels was adept at "juggling" relationships "to obtain money".
Ruddock claimed that when she met Samuels through dating website Zoosk in early 2013, he boasted of being "a millionaire", with a house he rented to footballers, and later that he could secure her a £50,000-a-year job with his company.
Trusting Samuels, who is alleged to have told her in one text message how he had "a law degree", she gave him £47,500 to invest, and quit her role as a logistics manager to take up a property management role with Samuels' firm. That job never materialised.
Ruddock, of Ledbury in Herefordshire, also handed over some cash to pay off debts with creditors including Barclays and Lloyds.
But weeping in the dock, she told how the former used car salesman still had £45,000 of her money and had left her debt woes "worse than before" with creditors now chasing her with "frightening" demand letters.
Gareth Walters, prosecuting, asked if she had now been in touch with her creditors.
She replied: "I'm too frightened to speak to them about it."
Having handed him the cash to invest in late March 2013, Ruddock went months without seeing a penny and at one stage even asked Samuels to "lend" her £2,000 just to pay the bills.
When she chased him for details of the bank where he had placed her money, Samuels is alleged to have told her he had cracked a rib, dislocated his hip, that his son had made an attempt on his life, and that he had prostate cancer.
At one point, in a series of text messages from Samuels to Ruddock, he told her: "I'm going to make you a millionaire but with you doing it. That's a promise."
She replied: "Millionaire? Blimey. Don't get carried away, just my own little house. I'll be happy with that."
But by the end of September 2013, Ruddock told jurors, she was "playing a game" with Samuels in a bid to get some of her money back, even asking her father-in-law to assist - but without any result.
She said: "I needed my money back, I wanted it back, so I was playing a game and he was a lot more clever and smart to me, so I said to him if we can only get half, I'm happy to have half and leave the other half invested."
After four months of knowing "attentive and very polite" Samuels, the boss at her old job came in to invite her back in a decision she claimed had "saved" her.
She told jurors: "My boss came round and said, 'they want you back, will you come back?'
"That saved me, that got me out. I don't think I could have got out again."
The trial of Samuels, of Broadway Grove, St Johns, Worcester, which is expected to last four weeks, continues.