Facebook ‘girlfriend’ stole man’s £1,300

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A young mum strung along a man with a rare genetic disorder into thinking she was his girlfriend while emptying his bank account of more than £1,300.

Chloe Pooley (19), who has a baby of nine months and is around ten weeks pregnant, blew James Astill’s cash on paying phone bills, supermarket shopping and takeaways.

Spalding magistrates heard Mr Astill – who has Aarskog-Scott Syndrome, a disorder affecting physical development – made the first approach to Pooley on Facebook.

Prosecutor Paul Wood said Mr Astill made a friend request because he believed he remembered Pooley from college.

She replied “do I know you?”, but within minutes they were chatting on Facebook.

Pooley asked to borrow £60 to pay her phone bill and then asked for his bank details.

Mr Wood said Mr Astill indicated he would only give his bank details to a good friend or trusted person – Pooley told him she could be trusted and he let her have his account information.

He said: “Throughout the Facebook exchange Miss Pooley said she was his girlfriend, but asked him to keep it secret.”

In her police interview, Pooley was asked if she had strung Mr Astill along into believing she was his girlfriend in order to obtain his money and she replied “yes”.

Mr Wood told the court: “The Crown say from the outset this lady was dishonestly going about the business of ripping off Mr Astill because he was vulnerable.”

He said Nationwide refunded the stolen £1,300 to Mr Astill and asked for compensation in that amount to repay the building society.

Solicitor John Storer, mitigating, said at the outset Pooley genuinely wanted to borrow £60.

He said: “It wasn’t her intention to milk this young man out of all his money. It just snowballed out of control.

“She knows she was wrong to do it.”

Mr Storer said Pooley, of John Harrison Way, Holbeach, is a single parent living on income support.

Magistrates conditionally discharged Pooley for 12 months after hearing there were no suitable community order programmes for her circumstances and ordered her to pay £500 compensation to the building society. She pleaded guilty to theft.