A woman has been jailed for fraud after cheating couples out of thousands of pounds by pretending to act as a surrogate mother for them.
Louise Pollard, 28, from Plymouth, claimed to be pregnant after artificially inseminating herself at home, before asking the couples she targeted to support her financially during the fake pregnancies.
Pollard admitted three counts of fraud by false representation and was sentenced to three years and four months in jail for carrying out 'deliberate, sustained, callous acts'.
In 2012, Pollard faked two pregnancies and subsequent miscarriages for Josephine and Keith Barnett, defrauding them out of more than £10,000. Prosecutor Rosie Collins said in court: 'She played on their desire to have children. She holds all the cards and they have to work on trust'.
was a question mark over what they were told when she appeared not to recognise
some of the more detailed medical aspects of the whole procedure, but they were
blinded by her enthusiasm and they went on to discuss financial arrangements', she added
In the UK, surrogate mothers can receive financial compensation in the form of expenses for the pregnancy. Pollard asked for money to fund car repairs, rent payments and living costs.
Pollard carried out two home inseminations, claiming that these had proved successful for her in the past and would bypass the need to use a clinic, saving money and time. She then told the couple she had a miscarriage following a car crash, for which there are no records, and then ceased contact. Several months later, she got back in touch, telling the couple she was pregnant following a one night stand, and illegally offered to sell them her baby, they told the Daily Mail.
Pollard targeted a second couple in 2012, Winston and Debra Kaba. She extracted over £5,000 from them before they became suspicious of a doctor's letter confirming her pregnancy, which turned out to be forged. They then contacted the police. Mrs Kaba told the Sun: 'We're sickened that somebody could be so evil. […] We're emotionally scarred for life'.
Sentencing, Judge Graham Cottle said: 'This is not a case about financial loss, it is a case of two desperate couples being completely taken in by you. Of course, they lost money but they have lost a great deal more than that. They have ended up heartbroken'.
'Using your skills as a fraudster, you earned their trust. You carried out one breathtaking deception after another, making them believe that you were going to provide them with what they desperately wanted'.
Pollard became a controversial figure in 2010 when newspapers reported that she was to become the surrogate for Osama Bin Laden's son, Omar Bin Laden. She reported that she had become pregnant with twins but later miscarried.
Police believe there may be more couples affected by the scam, who have yet to come forward.