Press Centre

The Betrayers

  • Episode: 

    1 of 1

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 02 Jul 2014
  • TX Confirmed: 

    No
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 27 2014 : Sat 28 Jun - Fri 04 Jul
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    New
“I remember one day thinking ‘he’s either everything that he says he is, or he’s got to be the most evil man known to mankind’ And in fact he is the most evil man I know of... The shock of finding this out was suddenly like realising that you’ve been with the devil.” - Susan Baio, victim of serial fraudster David Checkley
 
This new documentary for ITV tells the astonishing stories of people who have suffered the ultimate betrayal at the hands of someone they love and trust.
 
Produced by Wild Pictures, the company behind hard-hitting ITV documentaries including Brady and Hindley: Possession and Her Majesty’s Prison: Aylesbury, this programme uses powerful first person testimony of victims and private archive material alongside expert forensic psychologist opinion and an interview from a convicted fraudster to offer a unique insight into what drives those who betray.
 
From false identities to fake terminal illnesses, the programme investigates how intelligent and sensible victims can fall for a seemingly incredible web of lies and probes whether serial fraudsters are driven by criminal greed or their own psychological flaws.
 
It reveals that fraudsters don’t always seem like typical criminals. David Checkley, labelled ‘the man with the golden tongue’ swindled over 30 women out of hundreds of thousands of pounds to fund a luxury lifestyle. Public school-educated unemployed ex-convict Alistair Stewart posed as a millionaire banker and lavishly romanced a Harvard educated property broker while conning her out of her million-dollar savings. The family of a dying man were targeted by friend Beth Hood who faked cancer for her own gain tell their shocking story, and Paul Dable, who defrauded his own parents before setting light to the family home with everyone inside, reveals what drove him to do it.
 
Susan Baio met Checkley after deciding to brave online dating two years after her marriage failed. At first he was charming, telling her he was an American helicopter pilot who retrained as an architect. Having previous experience of internet dating, she was careful to check him out and his background seemed legitimate: “I met his friends, I met his family. I spoke to people who he dealt with in business and they would say things like, ‘I’ve known him for twenty years, he’s such a lovely guy.’  
 
She reluctantly agreed to lend him £20,000 after he told her his accountant had run off with a large amount of his money, but his deception was uncovered when he sent an intimate picture to her mobile phone. In fact he had sent the same picture to 13 other women and out of the blue, she received a phone call from one of them asking whether she had also been sent the intimate image, which she confirmed. “I said, ‘I am his girlfriend. He is my partner.’ And she threw up on the phone. It’s like the blood in your veins turns to ice. It’s the most frightening think you can think of to suddenly realise that the person you’re with is not who they say they are and is actually a very, very dangerous man and you are in danger and your family is in danger.”
 
While living on benefits in a bedsit in Burgess Hill 53-year-old Alastair Stewart, a public school educated fraudster, created a fake identity online. He became Alex Stewart; a billionaire who’d made a fortune at Goldman Sachs and was now running an investment company with a Swiss HQ. His target was Nina Siegenthaler, a successful high end Caribbean property dealer, who handed over her million-dollar savings to him to invest after falling in love. She was in a unusually vulnerable position - going through a divorce - when she met him. DS Mick Richards of Sussex Police put together the case against Stewart, and gives an insight into the fraudster’s tactics: “He was flying [Nina] back into the UK. He would pay for her air fares. He would pay for her accommodation. They even went on a shopping trip to Harrods and he bought her a £35,000 wrist watch. Two or three thousand pounds on a laptop. I mean, when we spoke to Nina she said she didn’t want the watch but it was a gift and she couldn’t really refuse it. And all the time it’s her money that’s being spent.”
 
In Belfast, the family of Frank Toman, who was dying from cancer, were targeted by family friend Beth Hood who faked her own cancer to gain their trust. Having met her outside the cancer centre, she began to visit their house, eventually persuading them to lend her several thousand pounds for a trip to see a fictitious oncologist in California. She promised to ask about Frank’s condition - but on her return claimed they told her there was nothing they could do.
 
Hood then told Frank’s wife Rita that while they were in America, her boyfriend Henry Fenton had become abusive and that she had to get away from him, but had nowhere to go. So they let her move in, with mother Rita giving up her bed for Beth to sleep in. Hood also offered to look after Frank - but her erratic behaviour meant the family asked her to move out, and into a rented flat they paid for. But son Ciaran began to smell a rat: "We followed Beth one day. To Henry Fenton’s house. And we witnessed the welcome. Which wasn’t the welcome of two people not in a relationship. They were very much in a relationship. She was staying in his house. She wasn’t living in the apartment. So when we really suspected there’s something really not right here, we went to the Marie Curie centre. They just confirmed that she wasn’t a patient and they’d no record of her." 
 
Paul Dable provides a revealing insight into what goes through the mind of a fraudster. After gaining a sports scholarship to an American university it quickly became clear that he didn’t have what it takes to become a professional athlete. Back home, with shattered dreams, he lost his job as a postman but pretended to his parents he was still working - taking out a bank loan and stealing their cash cards. He told his friends and girlfriend he was a professional footballer. One night, overwhelmed by his situation, he set fire to the family home. He says: “I wanted to run away. I had no money and nowhere to go. I wanted to be honest but I didn’t have the courage to do so. I just was lost. I didn’t know what to do. My brain was all over the place.”