A FRAUDSTER left her friend tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket after she posed as a Warrington Borough Council worker in a bizarre con.

Helen Dove’s victim lost around £50,000 after being promised a job with the council that never existed.

The reason why she set up the ‘elaborate’ fraud remains a mystery, with the 31-year-old having made no financial gain from her offending.

Liverpool Crown Court heard today, Wednesday, that Dove befriended victim Kim Baker at a riding school in Merseyside in January 2017.

When Mrs Baker confided in her that she had always wanted to work in child safeguarding, the con artist claimed she worked as an adoption officer for WBC and said that she could get her dream job as a counsellor.

Dove, from St Helens, created 15 different identities for herself – including an Ofsted inspector – in order to keep up the pretence that she worked for the council.

She faked texts, emails and letters, doctored bank statements and forged a contract of employment.

Warrington Guardian:

The forged job offer

Mrs Baker gave up her own job with BT – taking voluntary redundancy after 17 years with the company – after receiving the phoney offer of work, and waited seven months to start in her new post.

During this time, she was left borrowing money from friends and nearly lost her home – estimating that she was left around £50,000 out of pocket as a result of the fraud.

The mum-of-three was even forced to cancel her wedding, at which Dove was due to be chief bridesmaid.

Dove admitted two counts of fraud during an earlier hearing and was jailed for two years and eight months.

Warrington Guardian:

Kim Baker with husband Paul outside Liverpool Crown Court earlier today

Speaking outside court, Mrs Baker said: “Helen was someone I thought was my best friend and I trusted her wholeheartedly, she minded my children and was to be the chief bridesmaid at my wedding.

“When I found out what she did, needlessly and for no reason, I couldn't believe it.

“This is more than just loss of money.

“My future in-laws thought I was involved in this as my partner Phil had to help me to pay bills, which put huge strain on our family.

“We were supposed to be married in June 2019, but we were forced to cancel – which was heart-breaking, and something I don't think I'll ever get over.

“I felt manipulated and controlled for the 18 months of our friendship, and I had suicidal thoughts due to depression and stress.

“What Helen did to me has destroyed me emotionally, but I feel like I will finally be able to move on now she is in jail.”

Dove was also ordered to pay £1,500 in compensation and handed a restraining order preventing her from contacting Mrs Baker for 10 years.

Victoria Colvin, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "The reason why Dove chose to do any of this is still a mystery – she made no financial gain from it.

“She saw how her lies had made her friend become desperate, and yet she did nothing to help her – she simply made it worse.

“Dove denied her wrongdoing until the start of the trial and had to be arrested on warrant to appear before the court.

“Finally, she pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.

“The Crown Prosecution Service would like to thank Kim Baker for her courage in helping us to bring this fraudster to justice, and we hope that the successful end to this case helps Mrs Baker move on with her life.”

Detective sergeant Paul Kay, from Merseyside Police’s economic crime team, was left perplexed by Dove’s strange and devastating actions.

He said: “This was a really unusual case, and I have never seen anything like it before in my career.

“Dove made no monetary gain from this, but the victim suffered unnecessary disruption and a loss of salary by Dove’s ongoing actions.

“Thanks to the extensive investigations of constable Adam Carter, we were able to establish that Dove created a number of fictional personas – through which she was able to convince her victim that she had been given a genuine job offer.

“I hope that Dove will use the time in prison to reflect on the consequences of her actions.

“Her victim was exceptionally supportive in assisting the prosecution – I hope that today’s sentence means she can finally move on with her life.”

A Warrington Borough Council spokesman added: “This was a sensitive, complex and unusual case, where somebody fraudulently used the council’s position for personal gain.

“As soon as the victim got in touch to clarify the job offer, we made her aware that the correspondence she had received was not related to the council.”