A deaf conman has been sent to prison for 3 and a half years for running a surrogacy scam against a deaf couple.
Gino DiCaprio claimed he could help Neil and Sonia Musselwhite achieve their dreams of parenthood by arranging for a surrogate mother to carry their child in Kenya. The couple had known him for a long time, having met at a deaf support group, and felt they could trust him. Mrs. Musselwhite left her job in February 2013 to prepare for the baby’s arrival.
DiCaprio took £6,000 from the couple, but then claimed their child had been born with Down’s syndrome. He convinced them to hand over another £6,000 for a second attempt, which he later claimed has been successful. He even sent photographs as ‘proof’; these turned out to be photographs taken from the Internet.
The conman then tried to demand more money, claiming the child’s transfer from Kenya was held up by visa problems. This led the Musselwhites to investigate his claims. They learnt there had never been a surrogate mother in Kenya, and that DiCaprio had callously duped them from the start.
Judge John Reddihough said: ‘You are a devious liar and a scheming fraudsman. You preyed on their emotions and their long-standing wish to have a child. Putting it shortly, in a despicable way you conned them out of large sums of money.’
DiCaprio, from Rossendale, Lancashire, is a serial criminal, with 11 previous convictions and time spent in jail. As well as the fraudulent surrogacy, he had also claimed to be able to invest in Kenyan property development. He had swindled £55,000 from Mr Musselwhite and £34,000 from his mother as part of this scam.
By Emily Howlett
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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