My Boyfriend Pretended to Be a Secret Agent and Stole My £850,000 Life Savings
Carolyn Woods fell victim to a serial con artist after believing she would marry the man of her dreams. Here’s her story.
Falling in love is perhaps the most beautiful feeling globally and can make a person do unimaginable things with no questions asked. Unfortunately, Carolyn fell in love with a person who conned her into giving her life savings.
Her crazy and devastating experience later turned into a book, “Sleeping with a Psychopath,” that detailed all the twisted lies and pretentious schemes her con artist did. Here’s a glimpse into her story.
BEFORE MARK CAME
Carolyn Woods, a well-off and educated woman, is a proud mother to two beautiful daughters. She had been divorced for nine years before allowing another man into her life and enjoyed living independently.
After her grown children left home to live their lives, she left her career at a pharmaceutical company in Buckinghamshire. She started working in a fashion and lifestyle shop in Cotswolds, Tetbury.
Everything was well for the single mother until she met the man who swept her off her feet. It was an evening in 2012 when the good-looking man entered the shop and introduced himself as Mark Conway.
Mark was groomed to perfection, wearing a white shirt beneath an expensive-looking suit and branded glasses. He claimed to be 46 years old and had brown hair and eyes that dazzled Carolyn at first glance.
The man inquired about a window displayed jacket when Carolyn’s friend, Uma, interrupted to tell her about a house for sale. When Uma left, Carolyn shared that she was renting a cottage while searching for the perfect property to purchase.
Their conversation continued as if they were long-time friends who saw each other again. However, Mark had another plan in his head, especially after Uma hinted that Carolyn had money to buy a house.
Others are more advanced and use technology to fool people, including some Facebook users.
After their lengthy chat, Carolyn gave her phone number to Mark, thinking he was some kind of prince charming. The following day, he invited her out for champagne at a nearby hotel. Mark talked about his excessively luxurious lifestyle during the evening, including his work for the Swiss bank UBS.
According to the man, he received education at Eton and Oxford and owned several houses in different countries. He spared no detail of his excessive wealth, adding that he flew from Geneva just to see Carolyn.
He also impressed her, revealing that he spoke seven languages, flew planes, and had Eidetic memory. After sharing intimacy in bed two days after meeting, Mark whispered:
“I’m falling in love with you. This is insane. You know I have never truly loved or been loved by anyone before.”
"I did wish that he had actually killed me."— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 7, 2019
Conman Mark Acklom posed as a wealthy Swiss banker and MI6 spy convincing Carolyn Woods to give him money, leaving her penniless and suicidal.
He's been sentenced to five years in prison - more here: https://t.co/N70TJfID3x pic.twitter.com/3zJs0lZVet
FALLING IN LOVE
Carolyn quickly fell for the man, not because of his lifestyle, but because of his endless sweet words, compliments, and promises -- all of which she would later know to be a string of lies.
Less than a week had gone by, yet Mark was already planning a future with his sweetheart. During one of their dates, he stopped by an empty house out of West End Farm and told Carolyn he wanted to rent the home for them. He said:
“We’re going to live together. It’s what we both want. There’s no point in wasting time.”
However, Mark would often claim to fly out of town. While Carolyn presumed it was due to his job, he would later reveal that his banking career was just a cover for his real job with MI6.
BELIEVING THE LIES
Mark was careful to plant small details in Carolyn’s head since their first meeting that would make her believe him. It was as if he planned all the steps leading up to the revelation of his work as a secret agent.
“His problem was that secret agents weren’t supposed to be in serious relationships, and MI6 would make his life very difficult if he stayed with me,” she shared. “It would take him 18 months to get out of his contract.”
Although a friend suggested that Mark was married, given his many excuses to leave, Carolyn did not believe it. In fact, his secret agent lie was made more credible when Mark’s supposed assistant drove by the MI6 building in London.
Leaving his girlfriend in the car, Mark walked past two armed guards and into the building, convincing Carolyn all the more. Mark bought Carolyn a phone, laptop, and a Volvo SUV throughout their relationship, which she later found out was leased.
Mark planned for them to live in a beautiful home, Widcombe Manor, which he was to pay for. While on the phone, he made sure Carolyn heard that he was short on cash at hand. As such, she offered to lend him £26,000, which he initially declined, but later agreed to borrow £22,000.
However, the small amount would later grow larger and larger. After transferring the funds, Mark claimed to leave for a mission in Iran. The following day, he came straight to their home to see Carolyn and even took a phone call to tell his boss that the mission had been completed.
After that, Mark had several other schemes, including meeting with cabinet members, helicopter rides, and more. He also changed Carolyn’s lifestyle, claiming she should look the part if they were together.
The man would accompany her to shop for luxurious brands and get makeovers, and on some occasions, getting things for himself like a cufflink, an expensive whole ham at Harrods, and lead for his dog at work. Mark would simply look at his lover as she swiped her card.
'Financially I was left destitute... if my injuries had been physical and not psychological, I would have looked as if I had been beaten to a pulp'— This Morning (@thismorning) August 17, 2019
Carolyn Woods, who was duped out of nearly £850,000 by fraudster Mark Acklom speaks out following his conviction pic.twitter.com/DlDj41HRoF
Of course, Mark promised to pay Carolyn back as soon as his cash-flow problem was resolved. At the end of it all, she had nearly a million pounds of debt. Nevertheless, Carolyn did not think twice about trusting the man she loved.
As their relationship deepened, wedding bells were soon part of the conversation. Mark planned an all-out wedding and began making appointments with known designers for the bride and groom but surprised Carolyn before their big day came.
Mark told Carolyn that they needed to move out of their mansion for security reasons and had to move into a gorgeous Georgian townhouse nearby. To get the house, he forged Carolyn’s signature on the agreement and used her money to pay a year’s worth of rent. Carolyn shared:
“For him, the house served two purposes; keeping me on board by convincing me that he was a man of means and enabling him to impress other potential victims with his taste and wealth.”
THE END OF IT ALL
As time passed, Mark’s lies grew bigger and bigger, going as far as claiming many were after Carolyn as well. The woman barely left her home and grew isolated as she couldn’t discuss his job with anyone.
It came to the point that she reached her card limit and overdraft and needed her money back. Meanwhile, Mark pretended to have a brain tumor and claimed his assistant was stealing cash from him.
As a result, Carolyn had to move out of her home and claim her pension to clear her debts. Mark was away more and more until claiming to be in Italy, hiding for his safety. It wasn’t until Carolyn called Mark’s business associate, James, for help that she learned the truth.
Breaking: Conman Mark Acklom has been sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 7, 2019
He was accused of defrauding Carolyn Woods out of her life savings by posing as an MI6 agent - more here: https://t.co/wQtTeacxEl pic.twitter.com/JvA4bSimJ8
THE REAL MARK
She learned that he was a 38-year-old man with the birth name Mark Acklom. He was certainly not with the MI6 and had a wife and two daughters in Bathampton; hence, his supposed missions.
He also had a criminal record for frauds and scams that put him behind bars. After her discovery, Carolyn called Mark to pay her back but quickly hung up and never returned the calls.
Carolyn later found out that Mark would have other people inside while she was away from their home, including a model, whom he offered a fake contract. He pretended to be a photographer and asked the young woman to pose in lingerie.
When Carolyn Woods was wooed by a charismatic man called Mark, she did not know that he was one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives and would defraud her of £850,000. The British mother of two tells us how she fell for his lieshttps://t.co/a0yDD85YsV #conman #fugitive pic.twitter.com/iqpsjHnmGw— Times Magazine (@TimesMagazine) April 24, 2021
Mark is one of the many scammers in the world. Others are more advanced and use technology to fool people, including some Facebook users. Recently, ALDI warned their customers of a new scam that impersonated their account.