A widow allegedly scammed out of £300,000 by a lothario conman claims he still hasn’t paid her back – nearly five years after being ordered to by the courts.
Retired bookkeeper Lyn Walcott, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, spent seven years in a relationship with business owner Martin Forster, 60, after meeting him online.
But she claims in that time he convinced her to invest £100,000 in his silver jewellery business, pay his mortgage arrears and fork out on expensive holidays to St Lucia and Las Vegas – conning her out of £300,000 in total.
Martin Forster, 60, (right) allegedly convinced Lyn Walcott, 71, to invest £100,000 in his silver jewellery business, pay his mortgage arrears and fork out on expensive holidays to St Lucia and Las Vegas – conning her out of £300,000 in total
Ms Walcott, 71, alleges Mr Forster was ordered by Southend County Court to return £280,000 to her in November 2015 after she made a civil claim against him for more than £320,000.
But the pensioner, who cannot work due to arthritis, alleges she is still yet to receive a penny from the scammer, who had ‘five girlfriends across the world’.
She said this has left her ‘destitute’ and unable to leave her flat after losing her home, her father’s home and her life savings.
Mother-of-two Ms Walcott said: ‘When we first met, Mr Forster was dressed impeccably.
Ms Walcott (left), from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, spent seven years in a relationship with business owner Mr Forster after meeting him on an online dating site
‘He was in a Mercedes and took me to his nice house in Kent.
‘He was absolutely lovely, charming, had the charisma and was the life and soul of the party.
‘Nowadays I would see right through it, but at the time everything seemed so plausible.
‘I’d only been widowed four years and I missed my husband.
‘Before, I had even been wary that men may have been after my money as I was comfortably off, but with Mr Forster I was hoodwinked.
Ms Walcott had only been widowed four years when she met conman Mr Forster. Ms Walcott said on the couple’s first date Mr Forster asked her to fly to Thailand with him and by the third he’d proposed
‘He ruined my life financially. I had to sell two homes to help repay debts, including my dad’s house which was the family home for years.
‘I can’t work due to rheumatoid arthritis, so live on my state pension which means now I have to ask family for financial help for rent and food. I never go out as I can’t afford to.’
Ms Walcott received a £100,000 settlement after she divorced her first husband in 1998.
Her second husband, Nigel, died in 2000, aged 40, and Ms Walcott met Mr Forster on a dating site four years later.
Ms Walcott said on the couple’s first date, Mr Forster asked her to fly to Thailand with him, on the second he’d asked her to move in and by the third he’d proposed but Lyn thought it was too soon.
Ms Walcott alleges Mr Forster was ordered by Southend County Court to return £280,000 to her in November 2015 after she made a civil claim against him for more than £320,000
The couple eventually got engaged and moved in together in 2008 after Ms Walcott told him she would only help him financially if he made a commitment to her – although she still had to buy her own engagement ring.
But Ms Walcott admitted she had first become suspicious just eight months into the relationship, when Mr Forster asked for £8,000 to buy jewellery for his business.
She said: ‘He sent me a text while I was at work saying I should invest £8k into his business to buy some jewellery from Thailand.
‘He said I’d have 100 per cent back by that Christmas and if I didn’t help him he’d lose his business.
Ms Walcott is pictured with late husband Nigel on their wedding day in January 1999 in Barbados. He died suddenly just 18 months into their marriage
‘Then he said that the money had got lost in transit on its way to Thailand and I’d need to send over another £8,000 which I did.
‘I wasn’t short of money at that time. The next thing I knew, he was in Vegas and he had given me a cheque that bounced.
‘He made it seem so plausible, he took advantage.
‘I knew deep down he was scamming me, but was never able to prove it.
‘He always had excuses as to why I wouldn’t get my money back. He made everything sound so plausible.
‘He said he had a house in Arizona but the American government were holding back payment, and I could have my money when he’d sold it.
‘And he even said he’d let me move in with him if I paid his mortgage arrears.’
Ms Walcott’s suspicions that Mr Forster was seeing other women were confirmed when an American woman contacted her to say she was also in a relationship with him and had even applied for a marriage license.
After shaming him online for his infidelity, Ms Walcott was shocked when four other women from America, Canada and Sweden stepped forward to say that they were also in a relationship with him.
That was the final straw for the widow, who dumped Mr Forster before taking him to Southend County Court in 2015 for the cash she had loaned him between 2005 and 2010 as she believed her money had unwittingly funded trips to visit his other girlfriends.
But she claims despite court documents ordering him to pay back the money, after the court proceedings Mr Forster fled to Spain to avoid paying her – and she is still yet to receive a penny.
The UK government website states if a court has decided someone must pay a person an amount of money over £5,000 and they haven’t received payment, the claimant can apply to make the defendant bankrupt, which is an expensive process.
The mum-of-two said: ‘After around five years I wanted to get out of the relationship, but my son said if I just dumped him I would never get my money and he would lead me a merry dance.
‘I wasn’t prepared to let him get away with it. He told everyone I was lying and he didn’t owe me any money.
‘It’s really annoying and frustrating but he doesn’t exist to me anymore, he’s nothing.
‘Compared to how I was before, I’m destitute.
‘Before, I owned my own home and I didn’t have anything to pay out.
‘Now, I can’t even go out to meet another man because I’ve got no money.’
In a written statement, Mr Forster claimed he did not owe Ms Walcott money, and said the case was awaiting a hearing at the Court of Appeal – despite court papers showing this was refused.
Claiming all allegations against him were false, he added: ‘I do not owe Ms Walcott Mills one penny.
‘I have no debts with any other female. She alleged that I made her ‘homeless’ which is an utter and disgusting lie.
‘Ms Walcott Mills has always had two homes since I’ve known her.’