One of Four Winds con woman’s 17 victims on the loss of trust and her £6,500 savings

OAP heartbroken at ‘friend’s’ scam

By Claire Tennyson

A TRUSTING pensioner who lost over £6,500 to a scheming fraudster who she considered a friend for over 30 years, has spoken of the trauma she has suffered throughout the ordeal.

Sixty five year old Liz McFarland, was speaking as Four Winds con woman Kathryne Adair was facing a Downpatrick court after pleading guilty to 19 counts of fraud against 17 neighbours and friends totalling £83,100.

Forty six-year-old Adair, who had previously claimed she was the victim of a bizarre blackmail plot, conned Liz McFarland out of the money despite the fact her husband was seriously ill at the time.

Cairnshill Gardens woman Liz told us on Tuesday about the sob story she was duped into believing after heartless Adair approached her for cash last summer.

“I have known Kathryne for over 30 years. I wouldn’t say she was a really close friend but I would have chatted to her regularly enough.

“At the time she came to me for money my husband had been very ill.

“She called to the house last June claiming she wanted to see how he was doing and we chatted for a couple of hours.”

Visibly upset, Liz added: “It was on her way out she started crying and explained to me that she needed a loan to pay off taxes on her mother’s account.

“She assured me the money would be back in my account between seven and ten days. Foolish me, I went the next day and got her it.”

Liz explained to the South Belfast News that on a couple of occasions after that Kathryne contacted her wanting more money and that was when alarm bells started ringing.

“I never slept all night and then I decided to go and see the local newsagent who she had worked for, for 30 years. I told him I needed to talk to him about Kathryne and his response was ‘not again’.”

At this point Liz realised she had not been the first Adair had targeted and the revelations to come were nothing short of astonishing.

Many of her trusting friends and neighbours had handed over their life savings after hearing the church-going fraudster’s tales of woe.

Sickeningly, she took a total of £9,000 from pensioners Mary Fitzsimmons, 78 and William Bell, 84.

Liz said: “I felt sorry for the others because they were a lot older than me. I found out who they were and called at each of their doors and I encouraged them to go to the police.

“I was the first to go to the police just before lunch one day and later that afternoon they came and took her out of the shop. What surprised me was she had the cheek to go back to work the next day.”

Speaking of how convincing Adair was in coaxing the money out of her victims, Liz said she “would have been worthy of an Oscar”.

As we went to press today Liz was en route to Downpatrick Crown Court in the hopes that Adair would be sent to prison for her actions.

The court appearance on Tuesday afternoon was listed as a Newton hearing meaning there are disputes between the prosecution and defence versions of what took place therefore affecting the appropriate sentence.

Liz added: “I am naturally a giver, I would do anything for anybody and she has destroyed that in me.

“It also hurts me that she showed genuine concern for my husband in his ill health.

“I hope she gets a prison sentence. At the time I thought I was doing the right thing in helping her out and she completely took advantage of my good nature.”

Liz added: “I would safely say there are more people who have been scammed other than those listed in the charge sheets and I would say some have even taken this to their grave.”

When asked what she would say to Adair given the chance, Liz said she would simply ask “Why?”

 

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