An escort who accepted £70,000 in gifts and cash from an elderly business tycoon she called her “Sugar Daddy” has been spared jail despite her past history of pulling off outrageous stings.
Tanya Rowe, 42, was charged after she was given a £7,850 Rolex watch and a new car for her son when she met the wealthy 83-year old retired entrepreneur in a swanky Italian restaurant.
Initially Rowe falsely claimed she was a manager for Cartiers jewellers but whenever they subsequently met up she took presents and £300 a time cash handouts from him. She was accused of duping the pensioner after a suspicious friend of his contacted Cartier.
At Chester Crown Court, Rowe, who was charged under the more exotic name Mia Cavalli was cleared of defrauding the OAP but admitted taking money and gifts from him and pleaded guilty to a separate charge of possessing faked Cartier payslips which enabled her to rent out a £250,000 apartment in the city.
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.
Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd)
Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd)
She wept as she was sentenced to 15 months jail suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete 20 days of rehabilitation activity requirements after promising she would “go straight.”
The businessman who cannot be named, denied an affair, claiming he had no idea she was an escort and insisted he had leant Rowe the money expecting to be paid back.
Text messages emerged during the trial in which Rowe told him: “Darling I might run into you tonight and show you how happy I am x – whilst wearing my new watch lol. You excited?”, the pensioner wrote: “I O Yes”.
He was also said to have purchased a gold sex aide for his young lover, bought DVDs from the Nice ‘n’ Naughty adult boutique in Chester, and told her to wear “loose bra, no knickers” when meeting for a meal in the city.In another exchange of messages ahead of a night out at a Miller and Carter steakhouse he texted: “Can we have some fun at the table” to which she responded: “No…you will wait til you get home.” In another message she talked of being a “kept mistress” and he said: “God I enjoyed last night, can we do it again soon?”
Rowe, who grew up on a council estate in Tottenham, North London, had previously served a five-year, three months stretch over a crime spree in which she filched £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, a convicted drug smuggler, also persuaded a leading woman’s magazine to run a feature describing her battle with cancer and the “sad toll” on her relationship.
Past victims included property landlords, a waitress who lost her £5,000 savings and big companies, including estate agents Hamptons International and Savills and a wealth management firm in Cheltenham.
When victims started to chase her for money she would pretend she had terminal cancer. At the time of her sentencing in Gloucester 2016 under a third alias Ryley Cruz, a judge had branded her “an exceptionally devious, practised and accomplished liar.”
After her early release Rowe used the faked payslips to move to Chester under the name Mia Cavalli and in September 2019 she met the complainant at the the city’s Caramel Cafe Ristorante. The court heard during a conversation Rowe said she was an events manager with jewellers Cartier and offered to help when he said he was planning to move house.
They arranged a viewing appointment and when the pensioner said he was moving into a new apartment, Rowe said she was having a serious operation at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
Prosecutors claimed she then told the old man who believed she had breast cancer that she had not been paid by Cartier and was facing eviction from her flat and the man began 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 then a further £28,000 the following January. He bought the Rolex watch from Mappin and Webb jewellers in Chester during a visit in which staff claimed they heard her talking “for 25 minutes” about her job as an events manager for Cartier, and her working in Paris and Dubai.
The old man also forked out a further £13,000 to buy a Ford Focus car for her son Charlie Smith, 24, at the Evans Halshaw Ford dealership in Chester.
During his testimony the businessman insisted the money was loaned and would be paid back with interest as he believed Rowe was in the process of selling a £3.8 million house in Windsor which 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 she 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 aid.
He said some of his responses to her texts had innocent explanations and denied claims Rowe told him she was actually an escort.
Giovanni Baccouche, a director at Caramel Cafe Ristorante where the pair first met said he thought Rowe, a regular customer, was “dodgy” and claimed she asked him to “lend her £10,000 for medical care”. He claimed she told him she had a “good job for a designer brand”.
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.”
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She said she first met the pensioner in the Caramel cafe 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.
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 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 bearing in mind the evidence you gave in the trial that you wish now to go straight is to be fulfilled and 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.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.