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Wedding-dress seller faked her own death to scam customers
21-year-old Caroline Oates pocketed $4,500 for “bills, food, loans, and a new fridge freezer.” Here’s how she almost got away with it.
So this is not how you operate a business: A British woman created a Facebook page to sell wedding dresses, but when the would-be brides complained about not receiving their purchases, she told them she had died.
The bizarre tale was concocted by 21-year-old Caroline Oates, who pocketed $4,500 and spent the money on “bills, food, loans, and a new fridge freezer.” The Yorkshire resident told her customers various stories about why they weren’t receiving what they bought. Some had to cancel their weddings because of the scam.
Oates’ stories varied: Her “supplier had gone into liquidation,” she told one woman. To another, she tried to fake her own death. She pretended to be another family member, named Ellie, explaining that Caroline had gone into intensive care and died.
In one event, she used a charity raffle as a ruse to extort money from unsuspecting people. She told brides they would win a dress if they bought raffle tickets and the proceeds would benefit a cancer charity.
She was arrested last May, but Oates’s case was brought to court Wednesday. Customers complained to the Trading Standards bureau about her practices, who alerted the police. The court described the scammed victims as “living on low budgets and trying to plan special events dear to them.”
Oates said she tried to set up her Facebook-based business legally, but that it “had gone wrong.” Noticing other people concocting similar scams, she followed suit.
Oates will have a lot time to think of other bizarre stories. She pled guilty and will stay in jail in for 26 weeks.
Photo via circa360style/Hashgram
A former editorial operations specialist and staff writer for the Daily Dot, Jordan Valinsky is a tech reporter and web culture commentator. His work has been published by the Week, Digiday, CNNMoney, Popular Mechanics, Vice, Mic, and Betabeat.