A Lincolnshire woman has spoken out after her serial conman boyfriend faked a kidney transplant in order to swindle her out of more than £3,000.
Rebecca Rouse, 35, fell for Paul Gillett, 28, after she met him through the dating app Tinder in February 2017.
Gillett claimed he needed cash to cover medical bills for a kidney transplant and Rebecca kindly offered to lend him the money.
Gillett pretended to call Rebecca from hospital on several occasions and even showed her a fake surgical dressing on his side, she claims.
Rebecca, from Saxilby, grew concerned when he stopped replying and vanished with her money and she contacted West Mercia police who were aware of Gillett selling fake Ed Sheeran tickets.
Gillett, of Carmathen, Wales, was eventually found and jailed for three years after he admitted three counts of fraud and 21 similar matters at Worcester Crown Court in March 2019.
Heartbroken Rebecca, a care home worker, said: “I still can’t believe the lengths he went to for money.
“It’s really shaken my trust in men and I’m still in a bad way because of him.”
Rebecca first met Gillett after swiping right for him on dating app Tinder in February 2017.
He claimed to be a funeral director and the two started messaging each other daily.
Rebecca said: “At first he seemed like a really nice guy.
“He wasn't like all the other people on Tinder and he appeared genuinely interested in me.
“All his messages were so flattering – whenever I got one it would put a huge smile on my face.
“He did asked to meet me quite early on, so I was a bit wary of that.
“Now I realise why he was being so keen.”
After messaging for a week on Tinder, Rebecca exchanged numbers with charming Gillett and arranged to meet him after her shifts at the Co-op, Lincolnshire - where she was working at the time.
The two started dating and she introduced Gillett to her mum Marianne, 65, who she lived with at home in Saxilby.
Rebecca said: “He came around the night we met and my mum really liked him.
“We started seeing each other most days and Paul was so generous.
“He’d take mum and me out for meals and insist on paying.
“He even mentioned taking me to see Ed Sheeran for my birthday so everything was going really well between us.
"Paul was always talking about his family and showing us photos, he kept saying he'd arrange for us to meet.
"He was so romantic and everything seemed perfect."
Gillett moved in with Rebecca and her mum in March 2017 after he told her his flat had become inhabitable after a bad storm destroyed his chimney.
Rebecca - who suffers with benign intracranial hypertension, a build-up of fluid on the brain - felt a connection to Gillett after he opened up to her about his supposed health problems.
“Paul started telling me more about himself and mentioned a problem with his kidney,” she said.
“He told me he had an operation as a kid and he still had issues with it.
“I’d been in and out of hospital over the years with my condition so it was nice to meet someone who knew what it was like.”
One evening a few weeks later, Rebecca received a call from Gillett – he told her he’d gone into the hospital with kidney pains.
She said: “I tried to call him but he told me the signal was bad on the ward so he couldn’t speak.
“He told me they were keeping him in on a drip and running tests – I was so worried.
"I wanted to go to hospital to be by his side but he insisted he was fine and couldn't have a visitor.
“Luckily he was back after a few days and he told me that he’d been put on dialysis.
“He even showed me the surgical dressing on his side after having treatment.
“He knew exactly what to say so it was all very convincing.”
Love-struck Rebecca believed Gillett went for another hospital visit, where he was told he’d need to go for an MRI and a kidney transplant.
Rebecca claims conniving Gillet managed to convince her to fork out £3,182 for his 'private medical treatment' and travel in April 2017.
She said: “He told me the waiting list on the NHS was too long and he’d have to go privately to a clinic he found in Cornwall.
“I transferred him the money from my savings account so he could cover the cost of scan and his travel costs.
“But once he left he got harder to reach and I started to get suspicious.
“He wouldn’t answer my calls and when he gave me his mum’s number, no one would answer that either.
“The whole situation was so stressful that it made my condition flare-up.
"I got a horrible pain in my head and I collapsed, I was then rushed to hospital and they had to drain the fluid off my brain.
“I threatened to call the police and he said he would get my money back to me but I stopped hearing from him.”
Determined Rebecca eventually tracked down Gillett’s parents down online to find out the truth.
She said: “I had a phone call with his parents and they told me they hadn't heard from him for eight months.
"They told me he wasn't a funeral director and he never had any kidney problems.
"They kept saying 'sorry' for what he'd done.
"It was all a lie and I was completely devastated.
“Paul had also left his car in front of our house the whole time he'd been gone and when my mum and I went to inspect it, we saw a packet of surgical dressings in there from Boots.
"We started to doubt anything he'd told us was truthful."
Rebecca contacted the police and they informed her that Paul was already on their radar for selling fake Ed Sheeran tickets online.
Rebecca nearly lost hope that Gillett would be caught when she got a call from West Mercia Police in January 2019.
He was tracked down and arrested.
Gillett admitted three frauds and 21 similar matters at Worcester Crown Court and was sentenced to three years in prison in March 2019.
Combined with his kidney con, Gillett raked in £7,500 from other scams.
Rebecca said: "I was completely devastated and so disappointed when it all came out.
“I feel foolish for falling for his lies, but I really believed he was a good guy and I thought we had something good.
"I started to lose hope that the police would find him and then I got the call from them.
"I was so relieved even though it bought it all back up again but I'm glad to see that justice has been done."