Woman conned family out of £35,000 in Hollywood stardom scam

Ann Dunlop claimed a woman she knew was mingling with A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyonce.

Woman conned family out of £35,000 in Hollywood stardom scam Getty ImagesSpindrift

A woman who conned her family in a £35,000 bogus Hollywood actress fraud has been told to pay back the cash.

Ann Dunlop, 68, claimed a woman she knew was being lined up for million pound contracts.

She convinced brother David Bunton, 51, to hand the woman cash to help her make the breakthrough.

Dunlop stated that the woman was mingling with A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyonce as well as being managed by US entertainment executive Irving Azoff.

Ann Dunlop, 68, claimed a woman she knew was being lined up for million pound contracts.Spindrift

Dunlop, of Beauly in the Highlands, also induced her sister Jean and her husband Steve with the lies.

Steve believed Dunlop and the woman had “champagne on tap” at the plush London home they shared.

He stated that he believed Dunlop and her family were “like the Waltons” but ended up “like the Dingles”.

Steve stated the woman’s acting career was a “best kept secret” and compared it to the nuclear codes at Faslane.

Dunlop later requested Steve and Jean to pay her and the woman’s gas and council tax bills as she did not have enough money.

First offender Dunlop was found guilty last month to defrauding her family a total of £35,368 at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Kevin McCarron said: “I’m driven to the conclusion that what she was telling her family was a work of fiction worthy of every one of the screenwriters or playwrights mentioned in this case.

“It is clear she led her family down a merry dance through this episode.

“She perpetrated a pretense that was clearly false to everyone.”

Sheriff McCarron deferred sentencing for 12 months and told her to pay back the cash to her family.

The court heard during the trial that the woman had appeared in a non-speaking role in a BBC period drama as well as a TV show staring comedian Noel Fielding.

Mr Bunton- a chief executive of a life science company – was approached by Dunlop and the woman in March 2016 after he sold his business.

He stated that he handed over £5,000 to the pair in order for the actress to “build her career”.

Mr Bunton told the court that he was informed by Dunlop that the woman was being represented by Irving Azoff.

He said: “There was talk about meeting Beyonce and Jay Z… movies with Quentin Tarantino and Michael Keaton.

“She went to the Oscars to make various connections.

“Azoff was her manager, she met Leonardo DiCaprio and she was working on promotional activity for Chanel which would go alongside her movies.”

The family were also told that the woman was set to star in a movie version of the musical Wicked directed by Tim Burton.

Mr Bunton said that he was unaware of the figure the woman was to receive but believed it was millions.

Mr Bunton handed over a further £27,000 to the pair as he heard that Dunlop and her husband who also lived with them were “struggling.”

He also footed a bill for their council tax and gas.

Prosecutor Redmond Harris asked about any repayment.

Mr Bunton said: “It was promised… this was made clear by phone calls and texts.”

Mr Bunton was not paid back and his suspicions rose after the woman failed to appear in a Chanel Christmas advert in 2016.

His fears were further heightened after he hired a private investigator to keep tabs on the woman.

He said: “[We wanted] to establish if there was a relationship with Irving Azoff and if it was true that she was an actor and was there any basis to what we had been told in previous months.”

Mr Harris asked: “Following things with the private investigator, were your suspicions greater or unfounded?”

Mr Bunton said: “It confirmed what our fears were.”

Mr Bunton met Dunlop in a London pub in 2017 but did not receive a satisfactory answer as to why he had not been paid back.

Mr Harris asked: “What do you know about the woman’s acting career?”

Mr Bunton: “From internet searching, there was no career to my knowledge.”

Mr Bunton and Dunlop’s brother-in-law Steven Allan, 66, claimed he was under the impression Dunlop and the woman were living a “movie type of lifestyle in London”.

Mr Allan recalled visiting the pair at their Notting Hill home for Dunlop’s 60th birthday party.

He said: “I had never seen so many bottles of champagne… the champagne was on tap there.”

Mr Allan stated that the woman shopped at Harrod’s and went to handbag stores in London.

Mr Allan paid for Dunlop’s £600 gas bill in November 2016 before transferring £1,000 of his overdraft to her as “she said she didn’t have enough money”.

He claimed Dunlop told him that he would be repaid in two weeks.

Mr Allan added: “The explanation was there was a large sum of money in Coutts Bank but it was put in an investment fund and it was not available immediately but it would be sorted out.”

Mr Allan stated that he was later told by Dunlop that Tim Burton had collected the woman’s bank cards and put them in a safe.

Mr Harris asked about Mr Allan’s relationship with his wife’s family before the bank transfers.

He said: “I thought I had married into the Waltons… I didn’t know I had actually married into the Dingles.”

Steven said the woman’s acting career was the “best kept secret than the nuclear codes at Faslane”.

Dunlop told the court in her evidence that she believes the woman did star in the roles she had been informed about.

She claimed that she asked for money from her family as her husband became unwell and had to stop working.

Dunlop told the court that the “actress” is to appear on a US TV show which she has filmed one episode of so far.

Kevin Banks, defending, asked if Dunlop and the woman want to pay Mr Bunton back.

She said: “Yes, as she is still due money from the film.”

Mr Harris asked Dunlop why the woman was not at court to come to her rescue.

She replied: “I didn’t want her to come. My husband has to have someone at home but I didn’t want to put her through this – what can she say that I can’t?”

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