A mother has disowned her daughter after discovering she impersonated her and took out a £10,000 loan to pay for holidays for her and her friends.
Michelle Hughes, 52, had been living the high life, splashing out on luxury trips and shouting friends airfares to Lapland.
Her elderly mother, Muriel, once jokingly asked her if she’d won the lottery, but soon discovered the money her daughter was spending was hers.
Muriel, 74, uncovered the cruel deception when she applied for a loan herself to build an extension on her home, and it was refused.
Michelle was given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years and a six month tagged curfew after admitting the offence.
Muriel, from Flint, says: “I had to go the police station and listen to a tape of my own daughter impersonating me on the phone. I was sickened.
“Michelle and I had always been so close and I thought she had a heart of gold.
“My husband, Arthur, died six years ago and Michelle made him a promise, on his deathbed, that she would look after me.
“For her to betray me like this is heart-breaking. I won’t ever get over it.
“I knew she was living the high life, she went away on holiday every couple of months. She paid for eight people to go on a luxury trip to Lapland. I even joked and asked her if she’d won the lottery.
“Little did I know it was my money funding the whole thing. I was making the repayments and scrimping and saving whilst she lived a life of luxury.”
Michelle is the eldest of Muriel’s three children and her only daughter. She lives just around the corner and the two have always been close.
Muriel says: “Michelle was my only daughter and so it was special. She fell pregnant at 14 which was a big shock, but we stood by her. I brought her son, Richard, up as my own.
“She went on to have two more children, but she lived in the next road with her family and we had a very close bond.
“Just before my husband died, she made a promise to look after me, which I thought was lovely. There was a big emotional scene where she told him that he had nothing to worry about.”
After Arthur died, Muriel was diagnosed with COPD and Parkinson’s disease and Michelle suggested she should apply for power of attorney.
Muriel says: “It seemed like a good idea. I thought she was just trying to look after me.
“She came once a week to do my shopping and I gave her my bank card without a second thought. She would open my mail and check my bank statements.
“I noticed she was visiting me less and less; sometimes I didn’t see for weeks and I didn’t know why.”
Muriel’s health was not good and her son, Paul, would visit daily to look after her. As her mobility decreased, Muriel decided to apply for a grant to install a bathroom and bedroom downstairs.
But her application was refused – because there was a charge on the house.
Paul, 46, says: “Mum was mystified. I made inquiries and found out that Leeds Building Society and Sainsburys both had a charge on the house. Mum had never had any dealings with either company and so we presumed it was a mistake. It had to be.”
Muriel went to see her bank manager and discovered loans, taken out in her name. The only person with access to the account was Michelle. There were also transactions to Michelle’s account from her mother’s, but it could not be proved that they were fraudulent.
Muriel says: “It had to be Michelle. I was devastated. I had to go to the police station and listen to my own daughter, on tape, pretending to be me, organising the loan.
“I saw letters and forms where she had forged my signature. It really knocked me sick.
“I thought back to her holidays abroad and the fancy weddings she’d paid for. I’d been scrimping and saving. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Michelle Hughes received a suspended sentence at Mold Crown Court last month.
Judge Rhys Rowlands told the defendant during the hearing it was “absolutely appalling behaviour” towards her own elderly mother.
Muriel says: “She’s not my daughter any more. I want people to know what she’s done to our family.
“It’s made me really ill. I feel like she’s walked away from this with a slap on the wrist. I have repaid 70% of the loan. I am not well off and the repayments have left me struggling to survive.”
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