A WOMAN who was catfished by a scammer pretending to be Gary Barlow has now been offered show tickets and a chance to meet the real deal.

Janet Smith, 62, 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.

But after the catfish bombarded her with compliments and told her he had "split up" she grew suspicious - and convinced the scammer to reveal their true identity.

The cheat said he was actually 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.

After speaking out to raise awareness of online scammers, the real Gary Barlow spotted her story and shared it on Instagram.

Gazette: Trio - Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Gary Barlow, of Take ThatTrio - Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Gary Barlow, of Take That (Image: SWNS)

He wrote: "Dear Janet - I'm so sorry to hear this - please come to any show you want and meet me", followed by three heart emojis.

Janet said: "Someone texted me to say he'd seen the story - I don't know how he saw it.

"Gary hasn't contacted me directly yet. I've had an amazing time, it's been lovely.

"I've blocked the scammer on everything but I feel really bad - I just feel so guilty.

"He owned up to me and said he was sorry about it.

"I hope I've got the message out."

Janet believed she was speaking to the real "Back for Good" singer after adding what appeared to be his profile on Facebook on March 26.

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

However, she soon became suspicious all was not as it seemed - and realised the man she was speaking to couldn't be the real Gary Barlow.

She managed to unmask the scammer after telling him he could have her WhatsApp number in exchange for his true identity.

The man confessed his love for her and said he came from a poor family, asking her for cash "to get some food in Nigeria".

Janet said the whole experience had left her feeling "really guilty" and has shared her story to help others spot similar scammers in the future.

Janet said: "I didn't send him any money - I thought it was a cry for help."