Woman risks 40 months in prison for allegedly scamming 7 vulnerable men

Woman risks 40 months in prison for allegedly scamming 7 vulnerable men

Semia B. from Temse in Flanders scammed 7 men, according to public prosecutor Nele Poelmans. Her victims were almost all cognitively impaired, lonely or naive, reports Het Laatste Nieuws. "She pretended to be in a relationship with her victims and asked them for money," said Poelmans. "The victims were helplessly in love and didn't hesitate for a second."

The woman got to know the men between 2013 and 2016. She started talking to them and arranged meetings. "Immediately, she started talking about going on trips, living together and getting married," said the prosecutor. "But first, she had some financial worries that she had to take care of. Which is when she started asking for money." One after the other, the men started transferring it to her. This went on for three years. Sometimes she was seeing several men at the same time. To not get caught, she used different identities. The amount she received varied between 6,000 and 114,000 euros from each person, according to the public prosecutor's office.

The men were questioned and all gave similar statements. The woman promised a longterm relationship, but it never came to that. According to public prosecutor Poelmans, there also weren't any sexual relations. "The victims had to undergo an std-test first, or she would find another excuse." According to the prosecutor's office, it's clear the woman never intended to have a real relationship. 

Via banking details, the prosecutor counted the total damage to be 385,000 euros. But it is suspected to be larger. One of the victims who pressed charges spoke about 550,000 euros in total.

The counsellor asked for a moral compensation of 5,000 euros. "What she did was psychologically humiliating my client," he said. "We're talking about a con artist who is a danger to society." The public prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of 40 months and a fine of 1,500 euros.

The woman denied all accusations. "With my hand on my heart, I can say that I never did anything wrong, I never intended to hurt anyone and I've always been honest," she said at the hearing.

Her lawyer, Walter Van Steenbrugge, also didn't see anything prosecutable and talked about a revenge action from several exes. The money all comes from gifts, according to him. "These men fell in love, bought her presents and gave her money. She didn't trick them, nor did she try to get the pin codes for the bank cards. These men gave her that money because they wanted to."

The verdict will come on May 2.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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