A woman who became pregnant after her fiancé lied about having a vasectomy has spoken of her shock at discovering he was a fraudster.
Coleen Greenwood had been in a relationship with Greg Wilson for over two years and had a baby with him before she discovered the truth.
Wilson was jailed for six years after admitting multiple charges of fraud.
Among other crimes, he had conned Coleen’s sister into investing in a fake property business.
He had used the name “James Scott” and gone to extraordinary lengths to convince Ms Greenwood that he was a firefighter.
The couple had met in September 2014 on an online dating site, where he used the nickname “Firefighter J”.
He went on to tell Coleen that his name was James Scott, that he worked for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, that he was divorced with an ex-wife in Texas and had two daughters.
None of it was true.
Greg Wilson was actually an unemployed former soldier living a double life with a wife and three sons in Darlington.
His lies about working as a firefighter and his shift patterns allowed him to live half the week with his wife and sons and the other half with Coleen Greenwood.
‘Very manipulative man’
Coleen has told Radio 4’s You & Yours about the extreme lengths he went to in order to avoid suspicion.
“I would receive emails, text messages, voicemails from the Durham and Darlington fire service. He had a proper fireman’s outfit which smelled of smoke, he could talk at length and really extensively about working as a fireman,” she said.
“After it all came to light, I then found out from speaking to family members that his father was a fireman and he’d been brought up around fire stations and that’s where he’d got all the knowledge from. He was a very manipulative man.”
It’s believed the fake messages she received, supposedly from the fire service, actually came from mobile phones and email accounts belonging to Wilson.
He had told her about specific fires, saying he saved the life of a child by jumping from the window of a burning building with the child in his arms, breaking his back in the process.
He even showed Coleen a thank-you card from the family. It was one of many false documents he produced to add credibility to his lies.
In April 2015, he claimed to have had a vasectomy and turned up with bandages on his body and a document purporting to show the procedure had been successful.
When Coleen later became pregnant, he, in effect, called it a miracle.
Coleen had the baby, but both she and their child became seriously ill during labour and their new-born son spent his first days in intensive care.
It was not until a month or so after the birth that Wilson began to concoct fake business interests that would lead him to defraud numerous other people, including Coleen’s sister, Karen Crear.
She gave him £58,000 which was supposed to be invested in property.
“My sister had her own properties, she’s a clever, grounded lady,” said Coleen, “He manipulated her to such an extent that she did invest in a business that didn’t actually exist, but had been set up very cleverly to appear to everybody that it did.
“There was website addresses set up, there was social media accounts. He had advertising on local radio. He had office spaces let.
“We had meetings with numerous people to do with the business. There was letting boards manufactured, brochures – everything you could possibly have to run a business with, we had. There was no reason for anybody not to believe it was legitimate.”
Wilson invented a business manager and an accountant, with emails going backwards and forwards between him and his fictional characters and Coleen and her sister Karen.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that Wilson was simply having email conversations with himself to convince them of the authenticity and viability of his business.
Coleen calls it “an unusual con” because, she says, it wasn’t about stealing money and running, it was about “portraying himself to people to be something he wasn’t and living a particular lifestyle”.
He failed to pay for numerous goods and services he procured under his fake name of James Scott or his made-up businesses.
Newcastle Falcons rugby club and Metro Radio were among the firms he ripped off.
His crimes came to light after Coleen’s sister became suspicious and rang the hotel where the couple were supposed to be getting married.
The hotel staff had never heard of “James Scott”, nor the wedding he claimed to have booked, but had twice postponed.
When confronted, Wilson handed over their baby son, said he’d be “back in a minute” and drove off, but never returned.
Coleen says she went into shock. “I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. I pretty much didn’t want to go on.”
She says her son is an “amazing little boy” who suffered from separation anxiety after his father suddenly ran off. She has not been able to get the fake surname of Scott removed from his passport or birth certificate.
Coleen Greenwood says her fake fiancé duped everyone, including successful businesses and people in important positions.
“When the lies unravelled and I approached these people to tell them, I actually got animosity because people were like, ‘No, no, no, James wouldn’t do that.’ Their first instinct was, I was wrong. It couldn’t be, he wouldn’t do that.”
Detective Constable Chris Bentham from Durham Police calls it “the most bizarre investigation” he’s ever conducted. “I think if somebody wrote the script for Coronation Street, it would probably get turned away as being too outrageous,” he said.
Greg Wilson changed his plea to guilty a few days before his trial was due to start.
He was sentenced to six years in prison for 12 charges of fraud, including making a false statement about a birth.
“I will move forward and I will make a good life and be happy in the future for my son,” said Coleen, “but I’m not the same person I was.
“I would hate to think anybody else would go through something like this. That’s why I wanted this to go to court and that’s why I wanted him to be made accountable.
“He didn’t take any money from me, there’s no monetary gain that I can make and I’ll get no compensation, but I want that man to be in prison, so he can’t hurt people the way he’s hurt me and my family.”
You and Yours is broadcast every weekday on BBC Radio 4 from 12:20. You can listen to Coleen’s interview with Winifred Robinson here (it starts 23 minutes in).