A MUM-OF-TWO has told how her life was turned upside down after she was scammed by a fake Lewis Capaldi who conned her out of thousands.
Super fan Kerry Matthews, 55, revealed how she posted one comment on the Scottish singer’s Instagram page to tell him how much she liked his new song – her first ever comment on Instagram – and almost immediately scammers hit.The scammer sent these Photoshopped pics to convince her he was the real Lewis[/caption] He bombarded her with messages professing his love[/caption]
They convinced her she was talking to the real Lewis using fake photos and an AI-generated video call – and asked her for money for flights, to supposedly help him get out of his controlling record contract – and even to help a friend’s sick daughter.
They also tried to blackmail her to the tune of $30,000 and threatened to release intimate pictures the fake “Lewis” had tricked her into sending.
The scammers were so relentless, Kerry, from Victoria, Australia, ended up being diagnosed with a mental health disorder called hyper-mania, where she struggled to distinguish fact from fiction.
Brave Kerry has decided to tell her story in a bid to stop others from being victim to scammers.
“I was never really into music but for some reason I came across Lewis Capaldi on my computer, just before Covid in 2019,” she told Fabulous.
“I was going through a really hard time and his music really touched me. I became absolutely, ridiculously obsessed. Then Covid hit, and I was by myself working from home for months on end. So I felt I had no one, except Lewis Capaldi. His voice saved me.
I became absolutely, ridiculously obsessedKerry Matthews
“When his song Forget Me, came out in September last year, I posted on his page, ‘I love the new single’.
“I was extremely naive when it came to social media, I didn’t even have an Instagram until Lewis Capaldi and I never posted anything. I got a reply back from someone claiming to be his manager Ryan Walter. Of course I knew all about Ryan Walter because I knew everything there was to know about Lewis Capaldi.
“He said because Lewis had been going through a hard time during Covid he wanted to connect with his fans personally. Of course I thought, ‘This is just too good to be true’, but I questioned him and he sent me all the record company details.
“Being quite naive, I thought, ‘Maybe it’s true’, so I connected with who I thought was Lewis on Telegram, an instant messaging app. From September last year until May this year, I thought I was talking to the real Lewis Capaldi.”
Kerry said the scammer “love bombed” her – sending her up to 50 messages a day professing his love for her.
She still had doubts so she said to the scammer: “If you are the real Lewis – prove it.”
He sent her a photo of Lewis appearing to hold a photograph of her and another holding a piece of paper saying, “I love you Kerry Matthews”.
I believed we were in an intimate relationship with each otherKerry Matthews
“I blew up the picture and all the details looked like Lewis – even his short finger nails,” Kerry said.
“I believed we were in an intimate relationship with each other.
“There was not a single question he didn’t get right, he had answers for everything.
“I thought I knew so much about Lewis Capaldi because I was such a big fan, I’d write things like, ‘Do you like Parmesan cheese?’ Because I knew Lewis hated Parmesan cheese, and he’d reply, ‘I hate it’.
“Every single thing that I knew about Lewis, he knew as well. When I saw him pictured with a girlfriend online, he told me it was fake, that he’d set it up just to get the media off his back.”
Just before Christmas last year, the fake “Lewis” asked Kerry if he could come and visit her and asked her for money towards the private jet.
When I saw him pictured with a girlfriend online, he told me it was fakeKerry Matthews
“I thought it was worth it if I got to meet Lewis so I sent $5,000 Australian dollars. The money went straight to what appeared to be his company.
“There was the name of a solicitor on the transfer document. It seemed very legitimate.
“But when I rang up the local airport to ask if they were expecting this flight, they said “no”. I texted him and he said, ‘Oh, it must be wrong.’ He was very apologetic about it.
“And then I just thought, ‘Oh, for goodness sake, Kerry, this is ridiculous’. I had a moment of clarity and blocked him.”
But the scammer did not stop there – about two weeks later “Lewis” started messaging Kerry again – using different ways to contact her.
Eventually Kerry said to to him: “If you are real, call me” – and to her surprise she received a video call from him.
“It was a short call but it looked and sounded exactly like Lewis,” she said.
“I later learned that scammers can use AI to generate this kind of thing, but at the time, I thought it was real.
“After that it was just full on again, him telling me how much he loved me, how he can’t live without me, all the time.
“He told me that when he finishes his tour, we were going to go on a huge holiday together.
I had a moment of clarity and blocked himKerry Matthews
“He started talking about these investments where you got a huge return. He gave me his log in to an FX investments website.
“I looked at this website and it was so sophisticated. I could log into it using his username. I thought, ‘If I’m going to have this amazing holiday with Lewis Capaldi, I want to pay my own way and not just want to ride on his coattails’, so I invested about 3,000 Australian dollars.”
The fake Lewis also asked Kerry for money to supposedly help his crew member’s sick child – and to get out of his “controlling” record contract.
“’Lewis told me how he was trapped in his recording contract and they weren’t allowing him access to his bank accounts and they were controlling who he spoke to.
“He even showed me his recording contract. He was in the States at the time and said he needed $5,000 to get to LA to get out of his contract.
“By this stage I had no money left. I suggested he should ask his parents – as real Lewis’s parents would do anything to help him – but he said no.
“I don’t like to think of how much money I actually lost. I won’t count it up because it’s too upsetting. I think it’s somewhere around $12,000 altogether.”
Kerry was seeing a therapist at the time and mentioned the relationship she believed she was having with Lewis.
“When I started telling her about this intimate relationship that I thought I was having with Lewis, she diagnosed me with hypermania, a mental health issue, where I was living in a delusional state.
“I had never had this diagnosis before. The scammers were the catalyst for it.
“All my friends were telling me it was a scam. Everyone. But because I was in this delusional state and everything that I asked this person seemed to check out, I just went along with it for months on end.”
Kerry said the worst thing the scammers did was try to blackmail her over some personal pictures the fake Lewis has asked her to send.
“‘Lewis’ told me he had his phone stolen and he was worried because all these songs were on there and of course private messages and quite intimate photos I sent him.
I told them I didn’t have any money but they didn’t care, they told me to sell my houseKerry Matthews
“Then I got a message from someone saying, “We’ve got Lewis Capaldi’s phone. We’ve seen all these messages and photos and we are going to release all these unless you give us $30,000.’ They had found my place of work and knew who my sons were and they said they’d release it to them.
“I told them I didn’t have any money. But they didn’t care, they told me to sell my house, they pressured me and said, ‘Do you want Lewis’s career to go down the drain?’
“It was horrible. I went to my local police. I went to a lady at work in IT and just broke down. They both told me to ignore the scammers and they eventually went away.”
Kerry told the scammer that she had no money left to give him – but even that didn’t stop him continuing with the scam.
“He told me I could withdraw the money in the investment account – it was $380,000.
What to do if you or someone you know has fallen victim to an online scam
Report it to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime.
It collects reports about fraud on behalf of the police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
You can visit the website at actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime or call 0300 123 2040 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm).
“At this point I thought we were in a relationship so it made sense he would want to help me when I was struggling.
“I called the investment bank and they said I needed to pay $1500 to get a “digital key” to access the money.
“I didn’t have the money at that time, but they just kept hassling me, every single day.
“By that stage I was coming out of my delusional state and realised it was a scam.
“But these investment people were still sending me messages, ringing me. I would block them and they’d call again on another number.”
Kerry went to the police and make a report with the Australian cyber crime department.
“After I went to the police I reached out to Lewis’s real management who told me Lewis would never, ever ask fans for money.
“And then I just collapsed in a heap. I was crying for days. I was in a complete depression and didn’t want to get out of bed.
“These scammers changed my life. I came out of the hypermania, but it still comes back from time to time.
“The intensity of the scam, was so huge, and I was alone and had no one to talk to, I felt ashamed.
“When it ended it was like a heartbreak also, because it was so emotionally laden. They played on my vulnerabilities – that’s what scammers do.”
Kerry set up a Facebook group for people who have been scammed by fake Lewis Capaldis, which now has over 100 members.
“We warn each other about scammers and talk about it. Even just the other day I had another fake Lewis trying to scam me,” she said.
“People still say to me, ‘Aren’t you embarrassed?’ but no, I want to get this out there. I want to show people how easy it is, how pervasive that is, and how anyone can become a victim of this.”
The Sun has also spoken to several other Lewis Capaldi fans around the world who have fallen victim to similar scams.
Veronica Mitchell, a wheelchair user from Glasgow, Scotland, lost hundreds of pounds when a fake Lewis asked her to send him money on iTunes cards.
Isabel Malyska, from Germany, also lost hundreds of euros trying to set up a meeting with a fake Lewis.
The Sun has reached out to Lewis’s management about the scams.Lewis Capaldi is adored by fans thanks to his heartfelt ballads and cheeky sense of humour[/caption] Kerry has since set up a Facebook support group for scam victims of Lewis Capaldi[/caption] Kerry Matthews, pictured, who was scammed by someone impersonating singer songwriter Lewis Capaldi. Pics supplied by Kerry Matthews[/caption]