A couple from North Yorkshire who were conned out of almost £2,000 by a woman who promised to be a surrogate mum for them have finally become parents.
Samantha Cookes told the couple - who she met on an internet forum - that she would act as a surrogate and carry their much wanted baby. She claimed to have acted as a surrogate before for a wealthy family, and created fake certificates and a Facebook page for a fictitious mum.
She then went on to pocket their £2,000 in a fraudulent act that a judge this week called "cruel and hurtful."
The couple - who are in their late 20s - had turned to surrogacy after three failed attempts at IVF and numerous miscarriages. A family friend then funded a final cycle for them, which resulted in a baby girl, born earlier this year.
The delighted new dad said: "We really went through a rough time but thankfully we have a beautiful daughter, something we could only dream about at the time."
Speaking of con-woman Cookes, he said: "It is heartbreaking to think she sat before us, in our home, bold as brass, discussing our hopes and dreams and none of it was true.
"It is not just taking the money, which was bad enough. It is playing with people's heads, their life, their hopes of having a family."
Teeside Crown Court heard that Cookes had lost a child to cot death in 2008 and had not received counselling. She admitted fraud and was given a suspended jail term and ordered to pay £1,890 compensation.