British Divorcee Duped by Indian Youth Could Lose Her House

by Gopalan on  May 23, 2008 at 11:12 AM Lifestyle News
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 British Divorcee Duped by Indian Youth Could Lose Her House
Sarah Matheson, a mother of three, could lose her UK home mortgaged to raise money for her Indian lover. The youth she had met while on a visit to Goa has since deserted her.

The 54-year-old IT systems analyst said, "I was a divorcee who had been on my own for ten years. I had a reasonable amount of money, my own stylish home and a great career.

"But I was bored stiff. My children had left home, and I was looking into a bleak and lonely future. This beautiful young man offered an escape. . . Not just to passionate sex and attention, but also the chance of a new life."

In no time Sarah and Farouk from Kashmir became inseparable. "My friend told me I was being silly, but I was caught up in the romance of it all. We'd meet up every night after he had finished work, and twice we slept together.

"We used contraception, and I did not even think I was taking a risk. He was so tender and loving. When we said goodbye to each at the hotel before I flew home he was in tears. He said he loved me.

"My family thought I had gone insane," she says. "But I was totally in love with him by now. I rented out my house, put all my financial affairs in order and flew to Goa."

She rented a two-bedroom villa in a palm grove a mile from the coast in Calangute, and settled into a dream-like, surreal existence.

"I felt I was flush with money.

"I cooked and cleaned, waiting for him to come home from work, and sat on the beach or in the garden reading. During the days, I'd wander through the markets, chatting to local people. It was wonderful -  like a permanent holiday."

Several of her friends from the UK came to stay, and although they were suspicious of Farouk, remarked that Sarah had never looked better.

'The weight fell off me and I was so brown from lying in the sun. I felt ten years younger. Farouk was so attentive and loving, and we talked about us getting married, or him coming back to England with me."

The Kashmiri boy, not yet thirty, slowly broached his "business problems" back home and wondered whether she could help him out. What would she not to please him?

"He was so very persuasive and plausible, saying that it was almost impossible to borrow money in India and that this money would not only secure our futures but that he would pay me back in full. I was in love, and looking through rose-tinted glasses," she told Diana Appleyard of Daily Mail.

Farouk then announced he needed a visa to come and see her in England, but he couldn't get one.

Sarah, who felt she needed to check on her home, flew back alone to the UK. "At home, I sent a carefully-worded sponsorship letter via Farouk to the Goan authorities, asking them to grant Farouk a visa."

Then, bizarrely, she received a phone call at home in Surrey from an Englishwoman, of about her age.

"She asked me how to get a visa for her Indian boyfriend. Like me, she was a professional woman, and I asked her how on earth she had got my number and knew my situation."

The answer sent the first warning chill down Sarah's back. "She told me her boyfriend was a friend of Farouk, and that he had shown his friend my sponsorship letter. This woman said her boyfriend was "desperate" to get to the UK."

The two women agreed to meet up. "This was when my world fell apart," she says. "She showed me photos not only of herself with her Indian boyfriend, but also pictures of Farouk with his arm around one of her girlfriends."

Together, the two women began to put the pieces of the jigsaw together.

Sarah decided to fly out and confront Farouk with the photographs. By now, she had given him an incredible £80,000  -  £20,000 from her savings, and £60,000 from a bank loan which was ostensibly to save his business.

"He denied everything, in floods of tears. He said he was not having a relationship with the woman in the photo, it was all lies."

By now, however, Sarah knew the trust had gone. "I realised I had been such a fool, and had been duped out of this money. I told him he had to pay me back, and that our relationship was over."

Back at home, she waited for the money to arrive. Although she was now working again, her finances were suffering.

"He sent me a few hundred pounds, but then nothing. I called his bank - he'd shut the account the money was in. He refused to return my calls."

Even worse, it occurred to her that she might have put her health at risk, and had an HIV test. 'Waiting for the results was horrific, but thank goodness they came back negative.'

Today, she is back home, alone, in Surrey. There is no lover with the soulful eyes and promise of a sun-drenched romantic future.

Instead, she has letters from her mortgage and loan company telling her that she must pay the arrears or she will be evicted from her four-bedroom house.

In tears, she says: "I cannot believe I fell for this. It is a scam, an absolute con. The reason I am speaking out about what is a deeply shameful episode in my life is that I desperately want to warn other women like me that you must not fall for this trick.

"It will ruin your life. If I could, I would put leaflets on the planes flying to holiday destinations like Goa, warning women to beware."

Since Sarah's world came crashing down in May of last year, she has been fighting with the Goan government and legal system to try to bring a case against Farouk.

But her British solicitor has warned her it will be virtually impossible and potentially very costly. Not only that, but she has been in contact with five other British women who have been scammed the same way by Farouk's friends, and is keen to begin a campaign to stop this happening to anyone else.

"I am an intelligent woman, and yet I fell for his lies, hook, line and sinker," Sarah admits. "Even the Goan tourism minister has admitted to me that this is a problem. Women holidaymakers are tremendously vulnerable. They are being targeted from the moment they step off the plane."

Sarah is now facing up to the fact that she may have to sell her home before it is repossessed.

"'I can't afford to repay this loan and my mortgage. I am beside myself with anger and grief. I can't believe I threatened my own security by being so stupid."

She says: "I love my home. It is my security, my safe place, and I have put my own safety and my children's inheritance in jeopardy for a senseless fling in a hot climate."

Source: Medindia

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