THE casanova conman who scammed three grans out of £400k after claiming to win an £8million jackpot has been found hiding in Vietnam with a new wealthy lover, it has been reported.
John Eric Wells, 61, is currently being hunted by the police after allegedly conning the women.
He was previously jailed for three years in 1996 for the scam but police say they are looking for him in connection with three high value “romance frauds”.
The 61-year-old fantasist, who inspired the movie “Can’t Buy Me Love” starring Martin Kemp and Michelle Collins, is on South Yorkshire Police’s wanted list.
Pals have claimed a wealthy woman from Vietnam has bought him a bar, which he has been helping to renovate and where he entertains karaoke customers, The Mirror reports.
The bar owner told the paper he left three months ago and was back in England.
However, one former friend fears she could be Wells’ next victim and said: “He’s still in Asia and is supported by her. She’s a rich lady from Vietnam. She owns hotels all over.
“He’s a natural born liar and she’s gullible. She paid about £23,000 cash to buy him that bar. He told me he was in Dubai for 11 years working as a lawyer.”
‘HE RUINED MY LIFE’
One of Wells’s alleged victims, Hazel Wilkins, 70, who lives with her daughter from Rusper, West Sussex, claims Wells stole her life savings of almost £63,000.
“That man has ruined my life and who knows how many others,” she told the Mirror.
“I had a lovely family home, a great job and I was happy when I met him. Now I have nothing and I will never be happy again. It’s too late to get back what he has taken from me.
He convinced her to leave her job, telling her he had a 500-seater restaurant in Guernsey that she could manage, which never materialised, she alleges.
Hazel said he took her on cruises and they stayed in penthouse suites in top hotels.
Wells claimed told her he owned dozens of hotels around the world and pretended to go frequent “business trips”, often sending her photos from exotic-looking locations.
‘LOVE IS BLIND’
In reality he was working in his home town of Doncaster, South Yorks, where he was living a double life, she claims.
He was carrying out an identical scam on another woman, who Hazel has since been in touch with.
Hazel says Wells also claimed he had cancer, and cancelled their wedding plans five times, saying that friends and family had died.
Wells vanished in 2017, she claims she’s been paying back £17,000 in loans he took out in her name, which has wiped out half her pension.
He also promised to buy her daughters a house but backed out at the last minute, leaving one of them, who had a newborn baby, desperate and homeless.
Hazel felt she had to sell her own home to buy somewhere for her daughter and new grandchild to live – then had to move in with them herself.
“I feel so stupid. But he was convincing, charming, funny and kind. Love is blind and I was head over heels,” said Hazel.
Using the name Howard Walmsley, painter and decorator Wells told his wife he had won a jackpot of up to £8.4m.
He promised to buy a £300,000 farmhouse, which prompted the couple who owned it to move into a caravan to speed up the sale, the BBC reported at the time.
Wells also conned banks, a solicitor, an architect, a car firm, and two women friends.
He persuaded banks and businesses to give him credit and car firms to lend him vehicles.
South Yorkshire police said in a statement Wells is wanted in connection with three high value romance frauds, during which three victims lost money totalling more than £400,000.
The force said he is also believed to go by the names Howard Walmsley and Howard Hemmings.
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“The offences are reported to have taken place from September 2014 onwards. The victims lived in locations across the UK including Doncaster, Sussex and London.
“Police would like to hear from anyone who has seen or spoken to Wells recently, or has information which may help officers with their enquiries. It is possible Wells is currently living outside the UK.”
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