A 51-year-old woman who thought she was dating her pop hero George Ezra has revealed how her online love turned out to be a catfish trying to steal money.
Helen couldn’t believe her luck when she commented on the 29-year-old singer-songwriter's Facebook page, only to receive a friend request from an account with the name ‘George Ezra’.
After she accepted the friend request, the person claiming to be the musician said their manager had told them to 'touch base’ with fans ahead of a new album coming out.
Helen, who has been divorced for eight years, then spent months chatting to them, convinced she was talking to the star.
Over time, things escalated, with the pair messaging one another 30-40 times a day – although never on the phone.
When Phillip Schofield asked if she never thought it was weird that 'Ezra’ didn’t call her, Helen explained: “Not really – busy life, three kids running around everywhere, messages were easy to fit in around the day.”
At one point, the person posing as the musician even told her: “You know, I could marry you,” but Helen turned him down.
"Because I was so much older, you know,” she continued.
“And he’s in the spotlight, I’ve got family and it just wasn’t right, even. It kind of felt like I was supporting him as a fan, not like that.”
Helen said she tried to phone them once, but that they messaged back to say they were in the studio, asking her to not call during the day.
They had also told her not to speak to anyone about their romance, for press reasons.
“He wanted me to come off social media entirely, he wanted me to change my email address and everything,” Helen said.
It was eventually her ‘on-the-ball' daughter who got suspicious, confronting Helen to find out what was going on.
She also contacted the Catfish UK team, who asked Helen if ‘Ezra’ had ever asked for money.
“He hadn’t, as it was,” Helen said.
“He said he wanted to meet me, and that the only way to do it without arousing suspicion from the press was to do it through an official channel of a meet and greet.”
That, she explained, would cost £5,000, including flights.
Thankfully, Helen said no - at which point the person got ‘upset’ and put pressure on her.
She was then approached by money launderers, receiving a call from a loan company at 6am while on holiday, being told that her loan had been approved, and that £26,000 had been put into her account.
“I’m like, ‘I didn’t take out any loan’,” she said, adding that there already had been some fraudulent activity on her account.
Someone posing as New Scotland Yard also got in touch to say she needed to move the money into a specific account, which was just another part of the scam.
Helen said the experience made her ‘think twice’ about trusting people, but that she remained hopeful about finding love in the future.
Many viewers were shocked to hear what happened, arguing that Helen had been 'gullible'.
"Oh come on, if you were daft enough to actually think this surely you wouldn’t be going on national television and admitting it to everyone?" one commented on Twitter.
But some viewers empathised with Helen's situation, with one writing: "This is very very brave of her to share with the world who most are SO quick to judge! Imagine if she was a lot younger than this, the damage it could’ve caused."
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