A St Helens woman has been jailed for conning her friend into giving up her job to take up a dream post that never existed.
Helen Dove, 31, of Prescot Road in St Helens, befriended Kimberley McDonnell at a riding school in Rainford on Merseyside in January 2017.
Ms McDonnell confided that she had always wanted to work in child safeguarding. Ms Dove then began an elaborate fraud to pretend she'd secured a post for her.
Ms Dove pretended that she worked as an adoption officer in Warrington Council and said she'd get Ms McDonnell a job there as a counsellor.
Ms Dove used no less than 15 different identities to keep up the pretence that the victim's dream job was within her grasp.
She faked texts, emails and letters, doctored bank statements, and sent Ms McDonnell forged contracts of employments to make her believe she had a job but it was all a con.
On the back of promises made by Helen Dove, Ms McDonnell gave up her own job and then began a seven month wait to start in a post that never existed in the first place.
Ms Dove advised Ms McDonnell to turn down offers of other jobs as this would delay her ability to start in the post that Ms Dove had dreamed up.
In the end, Ms McDonnell was left trying to borrow money from friends and relatives to stay afloat and even faced the prospect of losing her home.
The court estimated she'd lost around £50,000 by the fraud.
At Liverpool Crown Court Helen Dove was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for two counts of fraud.
Victoria Colvin of Mersey Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service said: "The reason why Ms Dove chose to do any of this is still a mystery. She made no financial gain from it.
“She saw how her lies had made her friend become desperate and yet she did nothing to help her. She simply made it worse.
"She denied her wrongdoing until the start of the trial and had to be arrested on warrant to appear before the court. Finally she pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.
"The Crown Prosecution Service would like to thank Kimberley McDonnell for her courage in helping us to bring this fraudster to justice and we hope that the successful end to this case helps Ms McDonnell move on with her life.”
Constable Adam Carter, based in St Helens Level One investigations team, completed extensive enquiries and interviewed Dove during which she admitted creating 15 fictional people and corresponding email accounts from organisations including OFSTED and Warrington Council.
Detective Sergeant Paul Kay from Merseyside Police’s Economic Crime Team said: "This was a really unusual case and I have never seen anything like it before in my career.
"Dove made no monetary gain from this but the victim suffered unnecessary disruption and a loss of salary by Dove’s ongoing actions.
"Thanks to the extensive investigations of Constable Adam Carter we were able to establish Dove created a number of fictional persona through which she was able to convince her victim that she had been given a genuine job offer.
"I hope that Dove will use the time in prison to reflect on the consequences of her actions.
"Her victim was exceptionally supportive in assisting the prosecution. I hope that today’s sentence means she can finally move on with her life."