An evil wedding scammer pretended that her own mum was dead in a desperate attempt to dupe money out of a man she met on the dating app Tinder.
44-year-old Dana Twidale’s vile scams saw multiple brides and grooms to be across the UK conned out of thousands of pounds.
The mum ruined countless weddings after accepting money for her services before proceeding to disappear, with Twidale even jetting off to Spain to try and escape the authorities.
On July 5, Twidale was sentenced to five years behind bars at Hull Crown Court, with Judge Bury hailing her actions as “shameful”, according to Yorkshire Live.
Twidale pleaded guilty to 26 counts of fraud, with the offences occurring between August 21, 2017 and July 17, 2019. Her victims consisted of brides, grooms and ex-boyfriends, with Twidale even being accused of conning her own partner.
Now, for the first time, the true scale of her deceit has been laid bare in court.
Lying about her mum’s death to con ex-boyfriend
Twidale’s first scam saw her target a man who believed he was in a loving relationship with her.
Nigel Wainwright matched with Twidale on Tinder in September 2018 – just two months after the death of his dad which had left him feeling low and vulnerable.
Twidale exploited his vulnerable nature to dupe him out of more than £40,000.
She claimed she was a victim of domestic violence and faked injuries, including a black eye which she later admitted to drawing on with make-up.
In a further twisted lie, Twidale even pretended her own mum had died in order to extract money from Wainwright.
She said she needed money to pay for her mum’s funeral, with Wainwright borrowing £3,000 from his own mum to pay for the headstone.
Dale Brook, prosecuting, said: “All of this was entirely false and the claim her mum had died was particularly cunning and abhorrent because her mum was alive and well.
“The reason he continued to provide money was because the defendant assured him she was due £29,000 and would pay him back.”
In 10 months, Wainwright gave her a whopping £42,000.
The wedding scams
In total, Twidale pleaded guilty to over 20 counts of fraud, with the offences ranging from August 21, 2017, to July 17, 2019.
The majority of these relate to innocent brides and grooms who she tricked into paying for services that never materialised.
The court heard that a couple due to be wed paid £2,470 to Twidale to organise their wedding, which included a marquee.
Three days before their wedding they discovered the marquee, tables and chairs for their big day had not been delivered.
At the time, Twidale was on holiday in Spain. Mr Brook said: “The defendant told them that the items would arrive the following day, but nothing did. The defendant stopped answering their calls and messages.”
Another couple lost out on their honeymoon after paying Twidale £620 for services that never arrived.
Their statement which was read out to the court said: “Your wedding day is the biggest day of your life and something you should be able to look forward to.
“I look back and rather thinking of the good things I am constantly reminded what she put us through. Unfortunately, due to additional costs we had to sacrifice our honeymoon.”
One couple who paid £550 to Twidale for wedding decorations only became aware of the fraud the night before their wedding day.
“They were contacted by the photographer who alerted them to the complaints on social media and that the defendant had allegedly done a runner.”
The couple described how they were devastated and relied on borrowing money from family members to pay for the services for their wedding.
How Twidale was arrested and her previous crimes
When Twidale, of Newtown Court, Hull, was arrested she told police she had got into debt with her business and turned to gambling and was “chasing her losses”.
For many months, her victims feared they would never get justice and there was a lot of anger when pictures emerged of her holidaying in Spain.
It later turned out she fled to Spain as she began to face social media backlash for her crimes.
Mr Brook said: “She left to go to Spain because of the social media aspect and to run away and hope to avoid it.”
Twidale requested victims to pay money into her daughter’s account as Mr Wainwright had “cottoned on” to her fraudulent crimes and made a complaint to the bank which froze Twidale’s account.
Twidale told police she turned to Wainwright “out of desperation” and that she regretted saying her mum had died. After he found out she tried to cover herself by saying it was step mum who passed away.
Twidale has two previous convictions for four offences of theft committed in 1999.
Twidale fraudulently obtained around £15,000 through her wedding planning scam.
Michele Staurt-Lofthouse, who defended Twidale in court, offered little mitigation on behalf of her client, with the Hull mum saying sorry to every couple she scammed.
Ms Stuart-Lofthouse said: “The words she has written in the numerous documents for me include how sorry she is to all of the couples that are involved as part of her offending.
“She also says that the word sorry means nothing and she accepts that because what’s done is done.
“She accepts she took advantage of everybody concerned and again reminded me that she doesn’t want any forgiveness. She knows they can’t forgive her and that saying sorry is not enough.”
After Twidale’s jail term was confirmed, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) released a statement condemning Twidale and confirming how much money she will pay back to her victims.
Nigel Wray from the CPS said: “Twidale is a manipulative and callous criminal. She invented highly calculating and emotive lies to gain the trust and sympathy of her victims, in order to persuade them to part with their money.
“She also callously defrauded numerous clients and suppliers of her wedding planning business.
“She has now been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to repay a total of £57,791. I hope this is of some comfort to her victims.”
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