A GARY Barlow fan who thought the star had said “I love you” says she was saddened to learn she had been talking to a scammer after money.

Janet Smith, from Colchester, genuinely believed she was talking to the Take That singer for about a week after she added him as a friend on Facebook.

The fake Gary bombarded her with compliments and messages and said he had “split up”.

But she grew suspicious and eventually convinced the scammer to reveal their true identity.

Gazette: Victim - Gary Barlow fan Janet Smith, 62Victim - Gary Barlow fan Janet Smith, 62 (Image: SWNS)

The fraudster said he was a 24-year-old man from Nigeria and was sorry for lying to her but told Janet he really did love her and asked for cash.

The 62-year-old pizza restaurant worker now hopes to raise awareness of online scams targeting older people.

She said: “It’s so sad because he’s been saying to me ‘I love you’. I said ‘I am 62 - you’re 24’.”

“Elderly people are going to be adding these ‘celebrities’,” she added. “They’re going to be conning these old people.

"I understand that they are poor and they have to get money for their family, but people might lose a lot of money over this. It’s also giving celebrities a bad name.”

Initially, Janet believed that she had added the real Gary Barlow on Facebook on March 26.

“The words were really posh - ‘I’m in a meeting now’ and ‘I’m practicing for a concert’,” she explained.

“And it was going well. He just kept saying ‘I’m Gary Barlow, I’ve split up’.”


'I am Gary Barlow'

After a few days, Janet started to get suspicious and realised the man she was speaking to couldn’t be the real deal.

“Gary Barlow would not talk to somebody like me, he's too famous,” she said. “I just thought, this isn’t Gary Barlow.

“I kept saying ‘you’re not the real one!’. And he was saying ‘you're lovely, you're kind, yes, I am Gary Barlow.’”

Gazette: Star - Gary BarlowStar - Gary Barlow (Image: PA)

Eventually, Janet managed to persuade the scammer to reveal the truth by telling him he could have her WhatsApp number in exchange for his true identity.

After revealing his name and that he is a fan of the former The X Factor judge, the man eventually confessed his love for Janet, who he hoped would send him money to “get some food in Nigeria”.

When Janet asked how much he needed, his response was: “I don’t have the power to tell you how much you will give me, only you know in your heart.”

Janet told him she was “not in a position to do that” but says that the whole experience has left her feeling “really guilty”.