Hartlepool woman posed as psychic to con cash in Facebook scam

Teesside Magistrates' Court

Teesside Magistrates' Court

A gambling addict pretended to be a well-known psychic medium to con internet users out of cash.

Gemma Badley, 28, of Colwyn Road, Hartlepool, set up a Facebook account in the name of Sally Morgan - who makes regular television appearances as a psychic.

Badley’s scam was rumbled after a member of Ms Morgan’s management team saw the page, Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard.

“The fake page was set up in March of last year,” said Lynne Dalton, prosecuting.

“Put simply, Ms Badley, pretending to be Ms Morgan, offered readings for £10 or £20. Once the customer paid, she simply blocked them from the page.

“Ben Mustard, a member of Ms Morgan’s management, paid £20 for a reading before contacting the police.”

The court heard Badley used the bank details of one victim to apply for a loan, but the money was never released.

Another customer initially lost £750 after Badley used her bank details to pay an online betting company, but the bank refunded the money.

When police arrested Badley, they found a large quantity of unopened alcohol in her house.

“Badley said that had been bought from an online drinks company,” said Ms Dalton. “We have been unable to trace who paid for the drink.”

Badley admitted five offences of fraud by false representation, and asked for a further 19 offences to be taken into consideration.

Neil Taylor, defending, said: “She was frank with the police. Miss Badley’s problem is gambling and alcohol.

“She has a speech impediment, but got through school and got a good job.

“Unfortunately, she turned to gambling, and that led to a downward spiral.”

Badley was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, including 30 days of rehabilitation activity.

She was ordered to pay £790 compensation, including £750 to HSBC bank.

Bench chairman Ian Goodman told Badley: “You are a young woman with your whole life in front of you.

“The sentence will give you some help to sort out your problems, but you only get one shot at it.

“If you come back to court again, immediate custody will be our first thought.”