Poulton man who was looking for love in Lithuania stole £25,000 from 92-year-old mum to fund online exploits

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A Poulton man has been jailed after he stole his elderly mum's life savings to pursue romantic relationships with a number of foreign women.

Howard Clark, of Beckdean Avenue, Poulton stole £25,000 from his 92-year-old mum to fund a series of online romances with women in Lithuania, Turkey, Malaysia and the United States.

Howard Clark, of Beckdean Avenue, Poulton, was sentenced to 25 months in prison after pleading guilty to theft.

Howard Clark, of Beckdean Avenue, Poulton, was sentenced to 25 months in prison after pleading guilty to theft.

But the 64-year-old was unaware that he was being deceived himself and had fallen victim to online romance scams.

He was arrested in November 2017 following allegations of theft from his elderly mother Hilda, who he had been caring for.

Police were alerted after concerns were raised regarding unusual withdrawals from Hilda Clark’s bank account in July 2017. Large amounts of money had been withdrawn as cheques and made out for cash directly to Howard Clark.

When questioned, Clark claimed he had been given permission to withdraw the money by his mother. He said the money had been used for her and for respite care.

Further financial checks found substantial amounts of money had been transferred abroad from Clark’s accounts to bank accounts in Lithuania and Malaysia.

In November 2017 officers attended Clark’s home and discovered bundles of cash amounting to nearly £4,000.

Officers checked the 64-year-old’s mobile phone and established that he had pursued romantic relationships with a number of foreign women.

The phone revealed explicit conversations with females from Malaysia, Lithuania, Turkey and the United States of America.

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The messages, of a romantic nature, included women asking for cash, which Clark had transferred to them.

Clark was later arrested and charged with theft. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 months in prison at Preston Crown Court on Friday December 7.

Det Insp Martin Kane, of Lancashire Police, said: “Theft in circumstances such as this are despicable, theft from an elderly person is criminal enough in itself, however to steal from your own mother makes this crime even worse.

“Howard Clark sent money directly abroad with a view to becoming involved in a romantic relationship. I warn anyone now that this is a stark reminder of romance scams and this case had dire consequences for Hilda Clark, her immediate family and Howard Clark being convicted.

“There have been a few recent cases whereby people have stolen money and sent the stolen money abroad believing that it is either for romance or investments.

“This never happens and the offenders can become victims of fraud but using someone else’s money.

“The justice system takes a dim view in these circumstances and this should serve as a stark warning to those contemplating theft and those engaging with people abroad who offer promises that are simply fantasy.”