An escort who raked in £70,000 in cash and gifts from an 83-year-old sugar daddy has been spared jail despite a long conwoman career.
Tanya Rowe, 42, pretended to be a manger for Cartier jewelers after meeting the wealthy retired entrepreneur in an Italian restaurant in north London.
She offered to help the man move home and they soon started meeting up regularly with the man giving Rowe thousands in cash. He also claimed that she convinced him she was suffering from breast cancer.
The businessman even forked out £13,000 to buy a Ford Focus car for Rowe’s son Charlie Smith, 24, and she took other presents. She claimed a golden sex toy was among them.
She was accused of duping the pensioner after a suspicious friend of his contacted Cartier.
The businessman, who cannot be named, denied an affair and claimed he had no ideas she was an escort while insisting he had lent Rowe the money expecting to be paid back.
However, at Chester Crown Court, Rowe, who was charged under the name Mia Cavalli, was cleared of defrauding the man – though she admitted taking money and gifts from him.
She also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of possessing faked Cartier payslips, which enabled her to rent out a £250,000 apartment.
Tanya Rowe, an escort who accepted £70,000 in gifts and cash from an elderly business tycoon she called her sugar daddy
On Monday, she appeared for sentencing for the payslips fraud via video link from her bedroom after saying she was too ill to attend court and had mental health issues.
She wept as she was sentenced to 15 months jail suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete 20 days of rehab after promising she would ‘go straight’.
In September 2019 she met the complainant in north London and told him she was an events manager with Cartier.
Rowe later said she was having a serious operation at the Countess of Chester Hospital with prosecutors claiming she convinced him she had breast cancer. She then told him that she had not been paid by Cartier and was facing eviction from her flat – prompting the man to begin giving her money.
The court heard he gave her £2,200 to pay the rent, followed by smaller payments of £200-400 to pay for ‘expenses’. He then gave her a further £28,000 the following January.
He bought her a Rolex watch during a visit to a jewelers where staff claimed they heard her talking ‘for 25 minutes’ about her job as an events manager for Cartier, and working in Paris and Dubai.
During his testimony, the businessman insisted he thought the money was loaned and that it would be paid back with interest as he believed Rowe was in the process of selling a £3.8 million house in Windsor, which she told him Heston Blumenthal was interested in purchasing.
When asked about their relationship, he insisted they were ‘acquaintances’ and that it was ‘100% not a physical relationship’.
But he said on one evening when they met up Rowe was half-naked and ‘jumped’ into his arms, and they ended up on the couch for a ‘fumble’.
He added she would send him ‘obscene, dirty’ messages and he would reply in a ‘jocular’ way. On another night, he was said to be ‘sickened’ when she turned up at his home with ‘equipment’, which turned out to include a sex toy.
He said some of his responses to her texts had innocent explanations and denied claims Rowe told him she was actually an escort.
In evidence, Rowe insisted the money was given to her voluntarily by the old man as part of a so-called ‘sugar daddy sexual relationship.’
She said she first met the pensioner in the café and after learning he was planning to move house, provided contact details for a firm of estate agents. She said she initially told the OAP she worked for Cartier as she was ‘ashamed’ to admit she was an escort.
She claimed she encountered money troubles when she went to Turkey for a £9,900 boob job and her scar became infected.
Rowe said she required urgent treatment and blood transfusions at the Countess of Chester Hospital and she said she told the businessman her true profession when he visited her in hospital. He was said to have responded by saying she had nothing to be ashamed of, and offered to pay her bills.
Rowe who grew up on a council estate in Tottenham, North London had previously served a five year jail term over a crime spree in which she stole £61,000
Rowe said the pensioner then became a client of hers, spending up to £300 a time to be with her, which included sexual encounters.
She claimed he became increasingly ‘obsessive’ and ‘controlling’, with hundreds of messages exchanged between November 2019 and January 2020.
He was said to have dropped a ‘surprise pressie’ of a golden platinum sex toy on her doorstep for Christmas.
Rowe and her son, who lives in Windsor, were acquitted of fraud relating to the car but a jury was unable to reach a verdict on a second charge of whether she had defrauded the businessman out of money by falsely claiming to work for Cartier and to having breast cancer.
Prosecutors later offered no further evidence and a not guilty verdict recorded.
Sentencing her for the payslips fraud Judge Simon Berkson said: ‘There was sophistication in the nature of the documents that were provided by a sophisticated fraudster who has many convictions for that type of crime.
‘Sadly, her life as an adult had been spent committing frauds of all types..’
He ordered the fake payslips being confiscated and told Rowe: ‘I am hope bearing in mind the evidence you gave in the trial that your wish now to go straight is to be fulfilled and the you won’t have to go back to jail. It wouldn’t be a good plan to go back to your life of fraud. I’m giving you a chance – please take it.’
Rowe who grew up on a council estate in Tottenham, North London had previously served a five year jail term over a crime spree in which she stole £61,000 from victims by posing as an Italian heiress waiting to inherit £30 million, a top barrister, a Wonderbra model and a terminally ill cancer sufferer.
Her bogus CV and forged documents suggested that she had an account with the Queen’s bank, Coutts & Co. She wore expensive clothes, always travelled by taxi, and made a show of eating in restaurants most evenings.
She had even claimed to be an interior design guru, brought in to spruce up celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire.
During her criminal career, Rowe also persuaded a leading woman’s magazine to run a feature describing her battle with cancer and the ‘sad toll’ it took on her relationship at the time.
Past victims include property landlords, a waitress who lost her £5,000 savings and companies like estate agents Hamptons International and Savills, as well as a wealth management firm in Cheltenham.
When victims started to chase her for money she would pretend she had terminal cancer, the court heard.
In 2016 she was sentenced under alias Ryley Cruz, with a judge branding her ‘an exceptionally devious, practised and accomplished liar’.
After her release from prison, Rowe used the faked payslips to move to Chester under the name Mia Cavalli.