A FRAUDSTER duped people into donating hundreds of pounds worth of Christmas presents after claiming a family had lost everything in a house fire, a court heard.
When Kimberley Morgan posted a public appeal on Facebook for donations, kind-hearted members of the public rallied around to support the ‘family’.
But it soon transpired there had been no fire and the mother-of-three, from Kendal, intended on giving the presents to her own children.
The 33-year-old admitted fraud by false representation when she appeared at South Cumbria Magistrates Court.
She later told The Westmorland Gazette: “I just want to say that I made a mistake by not telling the truth. I fully regret what I’ve done and also how many people I’ve hurt. I have definitely learned a valuable lesson.”
Morgan, of Greengate Lane, posted the appeal online on December 22 last year, the court was told.
At least 15 people donated to Morgan, a mother of three, with an estimate of £500 in gifts provided to the 33-year-old.
The presents donated by residents included a bike, games console and gift voucher.
Morgan was arrested by police, with the presents confiscated.
Solicitor Michael Graham, mitigating, said she had experienced personal loss after the death of her fiancé in the lead up to the appeal and was suffering with her mental health.
One victim said they felt ‘suspicious’ after dropping off presents to Morgan.
“We had a house fire ourselves so we know what is like to lose everything so when I saw the appeal it really touched my heart,” they said.
“We decided to give some of the presents we had bought for other people and donate them to Kim instead.
“I was very disappointed and quite sad really when I found out it was a scam. It just makes you feel a bit silly.
“I went to the house to donate the gifts to Kim but she didn’t seem to have the full story or answer any of my questions, so I did think it was quite suspicious, but I know that stress can affect people in different ways.
“But when it came out that it was all just a scam then everything made sense to me.”
But one of the residents who donated to the appeal has sympathised with Morgan.
“It was totally out of character for Kim and she wasn’t in the frame of right mind,” she said.
“She had lost her fiancé and spiralled into depression.
“Kim has obviously done the community wrong, but she has done everything right to make this better.
“She is very sorry for what she has done and apologised to everyone involved.”
Morgan, who has no previous convictions, was granted unconditional bail.
She will be sentenced on April 13.
The Probation Service will interview Morgan before her punishment is decided to understand more about her background.