A NORTH CORNWALL woman dubbed a female 'Walter Mitty' character claimed she was pregnant, had cancer, and even that she was dead to con boyfriends out of thousands of pounds, a court heard.
Conwoman Juliet Clarke, formerly of St Michael's Close, Lawhitton, near Launceston, escaped an immediate jail sentence for telling a string of bizarre lies to play on the sympathies of partners and their families.
The 31-year-old sent a former boyfriend a text purporting to be from her father asking for his bank details because she had supposedly died and left him money in her will.
Clarke had previously told him she had cancer, Plymouth Crown Court heard last week.
Clarke also encouraged a new boyfriend to lend her money by claiming members of her family had died and bequeathed her large sums.
She also told the second man and his family she was pregnant by him and even sent someone else's ultrasound picture showing twins.
The boyfriend's mother was so convinced she was to become a grandmother that she bought baby clothes.
The second boyfriend was also told she had cancer, the court heard.
Julia Cox, for the prosecution, said that in total she defrauded the two men out of about £7,000 between October and December 2011.
Both were driven into debt and forced to pay overdraft fees or take out high-interest loans.
Miss Cox said the defendant spent her money on luxuries including hair extensions costing £230 and a holiday.
The court heard the second victim, a solider who had served in Afghanistan, took it upon himself to investigate mysterious payments on his account. He even visited the hairdressers where she had the hair extensions.
Clarke, who has now moved to Crediton, near Exeter, had earlier admitted three offences of fraud by false representation.
She asked for four similar offences to be taken into consideration.
Paul Rowsell, for the defence, said she was like a "female Walter Mitty character" but unlike the film she lived out her fantasies at the expense of others.
He added that she regretted her offences.
Mr Rowsell said she had married since the offences but was already separated from her new husband.
Judge Paul Darlow said that her psychiatric reports showed she wanted to be the "centre of attention".
He added: "You are well versed in playing on the sympathies of others with false illnesses and false conditions.
"Your conduct was deliberately fraudulent, mean-spirited, targeted and devious."
But Judge Darlow said she had pleaded guilty at an early stage and had no previous convictions.
He handed her a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Unemployed Clarke will remain under probation supervision for that time and must complete an education and training course.
Judge Darlow ordered her to pay the first boyfriend £500 compensation and the second one £1,500.