A woman who believed she had met her match while on a night out has said the past quarter of a century feels like a lie.
Sue Hughes was head over heels for bouncer Ste, the uncle of her friend of 25 years, Anna Bonner, who swindled the woman out of £117,000.
But Ste was never a real person, and despite 25 years of handing over cash for apparent medical procedures to help with specialist treatment at a hospital in Maryland, United States, Sue learned the bitter truth.
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Her friend, Anna, who was jailed for 28 months after pleading guilty to fraud, had been posing as the man, sending love letters and gifts to Sue, now 51.
Sue was left in £30,000 worth of debt and on the brink of suicide before finding out her apparent pal had swindled her out of over £100,000.
Psychiatric nurse Sue has since spoken to The Sun about her ordeal, recalling the betrayal which "ruined my life."
She said: "She lied to me for 25 years and she has ruined my life. For six weeks after I found out, I didn't eat. I lived on coffee and fags. I didn’t sleep and I still don't sleep now.
"I can’t work because of the effect it has had on my mental and physical health."
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Sue and Anna had been roommates for 18 months before the former moved out to clear her debts, in that time clubbing away and bumping into who she was told was Anna's uncle, Ste.
She lost touch with Ste after RJs, the nightclub the pair were often at, closed down, but a call in 2011 changed her life and Sue was expecting to see him at Anna's wedding to fiancé Steve Bonner.
No such luck though, and Anna alleged he was too busy with work to make the trip over, soon being told he had been diagnosed with cancer, which Sue gave cash toward, as well as a bogus prison raid attempt which saw "Ste" landed in prison.
She added: "This guy, I had feelings for and if you've got feelings for someone, you would do anything for them."
By 2018, Sue had blown £70,000 on her mysterious lover but eventually found it "too much" and had a breakdown, telling her counsellor she was "going home to commit suicide."
A close friend of the duo since raised her suspicions and eventually found Anna had been rinsing her pal out of tens of thousands over the course of 25 years.
In 2020, Sue discovered letters addressed to Ste in the home of her former friend, and it has had a lasting effect on how and who Sue trusts, with the 51-year-old adding: "Even now, I don't trust people. I don't go out unless I have to."
Bonner appeared in court charged with obtaining £117,239 through fraudulent means, with the heartless con sentenced to 28 months in prison.
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