Three former romantic interests give evidence on alleged fraudster in UK court

A woman who dated an alleged internet dating fraudster claimed her signature was forged in a deal he put together, a UK court has heard.

Sandra Phillpott said she “got on very well” with Matthew Samuels after meeting him through the Zoosk website and claimed he would “sort a car” for her in a 2014 finance deal.

But she said her a signature on the subsequent hire purchase agreement was “a copy”.

Three former romantic interests give evidence on alleged fraudster in UK court

Former public school boy Samuels is on trial at Worcester Crown Court accused of conning five women – most of whom he met through online dating – and his own stepson out of more than £180,000 in total.

Samuels denies 11 counts of fraud.

In a fiery testimony from another woman, fitness instructor Sarah Moon, from Chichester in West Sussex, she said Samuels had played her for a fool, telling her he was a wealthy “knee surgeon”.

Her disbelieving house-mate did an online search of registered doctors and found no trace of Samuels – whom she knew as Matthew Copeland.

A third woman, school teacher Amanda Brooks, told how she became so suspicious of Samuels she contacted his ex-wife for answers.

The Crown claims the 50-year-old is adept at “juggling” relationships to “obtain money” from his victims.

The three women are not among the alleged victims but all met the father-of-10 through internet dating sites, and have been giving evidence for the prosecution.

Samuels himself was contacted through dating site Plenty Of Fish (Pof.com) by Miss Moon in January this year.

They met six times, but she complained how Samuels was unreliable and failed to turn up to a date in Bristol, after she had driven nearly four hours from her Sussex home to meet him.

Angry, she then texted a man she believed was his brother, called “Matthew Copeland”, telling him to pass on the message that “your brother is a liar and a fake”.

But Miss Moon said: “I found out it wasn’t his brother – it was David (Samuels) texting me back, because Matthew Copeland does not exist.”

Samuels’s barrister Abigail Nixon asked Miss Moon: “He wasn’t as attractive as the man in his (online dating) photo.

“But he became more attractive to you when you found out he was a millionaire, didn’t he?”

Miss Moon denied she had been interested in his money, adding: “I’ve been spoiled, I’ve been to the Ritz hotel – but I’d rather go for a pizza actually.”

Finishing her evidence and leaving court she shot Samuels, sitting in the dock, a look but he did not return her gaze.

Meeting online in 2013, Miss Phillpott described Samuels as “very easy to talk to – we had a good rapport”.

Samuels was said to have told her he was “a businessman, an entrepreneur, with lots of property and an interest in cars”.

On one occasion, early in 2014, she sent him a copy of her passport information after he invited her on a holiday to Hong Kong – a trip that never materialised.

When the 49-year-old needed a new car she turned to salesman Samuels’s experience, telling jurors that – at the time – she “trusted his knowledge”.

Miss Phillpott, of Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, did get a car “but not quite what I had in mind”.

She had handed over a utility bill and her driving licence to Samuels – he already had a copy of her passport – and the agreement was signed, but she claimed by parties unknown.

“I was told by Matthew it was just a procedure, he’d sorted it out, he’d paid for the car outright,” added Miss Phillpott.

“I was naive, I suppose.”

Miss Phillpott went on: “My complaint was I never signed for anything, physically I’ve never legally signed anything.”

In 2014, Miss Brooks met Samuels through Zoosk but told how after four meetings, she accused him of being a liar and a fraud.

She put a hold on her accounts and swapped banks over fears Samuels was not all he appeared.

Miss Brooks, from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, said he claimed to have cancer, but after he kept letting her down, she told him: “I don’t think it’s true, I think you’re married or living with someone.”

She explained how she all but confirmed her suspicions when she managed to trace “millionaire” Samuels’s ex-wife Caroline Morris running her own website offering her services as an odd-job woman.

Miss Brooks said: “I rang her. It did put my mind at rest and that I wasn’t going bonkers.”

She added: “After I’d spoken to Caroline, I rang the police.”

The trial of Samuels, of Broadway Grove, St Johns, Worcester, is expected to continue for another three weeks.

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