A real friend is someone you can turn to in times of need. They have your back, and you theirs. The last thing you’d ever expect is for them to scam you out of hundreds of dollars.
But that’s exactly what a young London mum has done, costing herself at least four long-term friendships in the process, including one that had lasted almost 15 years.
Ellie Catchesides, a 28-year-old mother-of-three from Eltham in south-East London has admitted to four counts of fraud at Woolwich Crown Court in the UK after selling non-existent Disneyland Paris tickets to friends. One of whom turned up with children in tow, only to find they’d been scammed by someone they trusted with their children crushed at their exciting adventure ending before it even began.
Catchesides escaped jail time, instead being sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid work.
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This still left hard-working families out of pocket, so former friend of Catchesides, Jade Miller, set up a crowdsourcing page at Just Giving in order to raise the funds to reimburse everyone who had fallen victim to the fake ticket scam. Any extra money was given to charity Children In Need.
On the page she wrote about the betrayal:
Ellie has been preying on vulnerable families selling fraudulent holidays to Disneyland Paris. At first my friend thought it was just me it happened too but upon looking further into it I have found that I am not alone and at last count there were over 20 other victims spanning what seems to be 7 years!
Miller says she gave Catchesides $1500 AUD and knows of others who gave her similar amounts of money for Disney tickets that didn't exist.
"On one occasion a family turned up on the day ready to travel to Disneyland with children in tow to discover the heartbreaking truth," she wrote.
To trick families into purchasing the tickets, Catchesides posted on her Facebook page that she had purchased the tickets for her family but was unable to make it, so was forced to sell them cut-price.
When friends first discovered the scam, Catchesides claimed to also be a victim of fraud but eventually admitted to what she had done.
Miller wrote a letter to the court, detailing the distress Catchesides had caused.
The Mirror reports judge Andrew Lees as saying, “You sold fake trips to people who no doubt work hard and were hoping they had a chance to go on holiday that might be enjoyable for them and their family.
"But it turned out you were committing a mean and dishonest offence against them and there was some persistence in what you were doing.”
Listen to an episode of This Glorious Mess and hear about how a couple saved enough money to be able to retire in their thirties.
Has a friend ever let you down so badly the friendship ended?