I began to doubt my flaky boyfriend but the truth was even darker than I feared…
By Emma Bones, 30, from Cheshire
As the “new message” icon pinged on my screen, I sighed.
After a string of false starts I was almost ready to give up on online dating.
But then I saw Jason’s gorgeous profile picture. With his chiselled looks and sparkling eyes, I hoped he’d be different.
“I’m looking for someone genuine to take things slowly,” he told me. Fingers crossed he was true to his word.
So, over time we started chatting. First on the dating site, then via the MSN online messaging programme.
He seemed interested in my life. He wasn’t like some of the other idiots I’d met online.
Jason told me he was a computer analyst with Italian roots. Stable but sexy, I liked the sound of that!
Don’t rush into things, I warned myself.
I even Googled his name to make sure he wasn’t hiding a dodgy past. To my relief nothing came up.
“Let me come and meet you,” he eventually asked.
We’d been chatting online for a few months so I bit the bullet and agreed.
I’ll admit I was a bit surprised when he turned up at my house in a clapped out Renault Clio.
But over a coffee he explained he usually drove a Porsche. He’d just borrowed the old banger while it was in the garage for repairs. That explained it!
After spending just a few hours together I was utterly charmed. We soon fell into an easy routine where he’d come down to see me on the weekends.
Things were going great, I just wished I could see more of him. I was busy at work in the week though and also couldn’t drive.
Then one night tragedy struck. I was having a rare night out with the girls when Jason’s name flashed up on my phone.
I snuck outside to take the call but I could barely make out what he was saying. He was inconsolable.
“My mum’s in hospital,” he croaked out.
He explained he was on his way there to be with her. I probably wouldn’t hear from him for the rest of the night.
I felt terrible. I’d been partying 25 miles away while Jason was going through such an awful time alone.
I spent the rest of the night worrying. Then at 3am, just as I was arriving home, Jason called again.
Through tears he broke the news that his mum had passed away.
My feet ached from a night on the dance floor and I was desperate for my bed, but instead I stayed up until dawn consoling him.
Over the next few weeks I didn’t see Jason. I understood though, he had his hands full with the funeral arrangements.
We’d talk every day still.
“What about playing Robbie Williams’ Angels?” he asked, as he struggled to get everything ready.
I couldn’t imagine losing my mum. Poor Jason.
Once the funeral had been held everything got back to normal.
Jason had been back down to see me and our relationship was back on track.
It was a few weeks later that I logged onto MSN to see if he was online.
“Hi babe, how are you doing?” I typed to him when his little icon came up as live.
“It’s not Jason I’m afraid,” he typed back. “It’s his twin.”
He’d mentioned his twin brother before.
Apparently he lived out in Canada, but had come back for their mum’s funeral.
My initial confusion turned to horror as he explained gently that Jason had been in a car smash on the motorway.
He’d been travelling up to Newcastle for a computer job when he was hit, and was now in intensive care.
“You won’t be able to call Jason,” he told me. “But I’ll keep you updated on how he’s getting on. The doctors are doing a good job for him.”
That night I barely slept, beside myself with worry.
Then in the morning having heard no further news I decided to ring Jason’s mobile, desperate for him to answer.
My heart soared when I heard his voice.
“I’ve got bad concussion but I’m doing okay,” he soothed me.
“I’m covered in cuts and bruises but they’ve sent me home to rest now.”
Thank God he’s alive, I thought.
Of course he didn’t feel like getting back in a car to come down to see me, but I understood.
“Send me some photos of your stitches,” I asked, wanting to sympathise.
He promised he would later, but those photos never arrived.
At first he said he’d forgotten. Then he convinced me they were so gory that he couldn’t even bring himself to look at them.
As the days went by I began to feel a prick of suspicion in my gut. Surely Jason wasn’t trying to hide something?
It didn’t help that I hadn’t seen him for a while either. He was always too busy or he’d change the subject when I asked.
After around two weeks I was starting to question whether he’d gone off me. Perhaps he’d met someone else.
Then soon after, poor Jason called with yet more bad news… his dad had died.
Bad luck comes in threes, but this is getting ridiculous!
It sounds insensitive but I just didn’t believe him. And come to think of it, I never had seen that Porsche…
I wanted to probe further to get to the bottom of what was going on.
So I decided to turn detective and set up a fake MSN account to chat to Jason as a sexy stranger.
I was stunned when he fell for it and introduced himself to me as a policeman.
My Jason was supposed to be a computer analyst, he’d never mentioned the police force.
It’s all a big lie, I realised in horror.
That’s when I decided to call it quits. I really thought we’d have a future together but I couldn’t trust him anymore.
I emailed him to let him know the game was up, that I knew he was lying.
But instead of saying sorry he got really angry.
“I can’t believe you think I’m lying after everything I’ve been through,” he raged.
I broke off contact and resolved to swear off men for a while.
It wasn’t long after that my friend Gemma text me.
“Are you still with that Jason?” she asked. “You might want to have a look at the Manchester Evening News.”
Immediately I booted up my computer to find out what Gemma was on about.
As the website loaded I gasped in horror as Jason’s big glum face filled the screen – he’d been in court.
I was trembling as I read the article.
My so-called perfect man had been done for a £24,000 internet fraud scheme. He’d sold tickets and goods to people but never delivered them.
It was all several years before I’d met him, but the police had only just caught up with him for it.
But that wasn’t all… he’d even spun the court the same story about his mum passing away.
His mum who was apparently there, alive and well, in court to support him.
I knew it!
The surname he’d given me was fake, which is how he’d hidden his murky history.
He wasn’t sexy Italian Jason Lazaza, he was plain old Jason Hart.
Armed with his real name, I did another online search and that’s when I discovered how low Jason would go.
He’d actually phoned up the local paper to report his own death, desperate to escape upset customers.
Apparently he’d had Robbie Williams’ Angels played at his funeral. It must be his favourite because that was the same song he was planning for his supposedly dead mum.
It was sick.
I couldn’t help but wonder whether that would have been the next lie he pulled on me.
Would he have faked his death again?
With Jason jailed for two years that really was the end to our relationship.
Initially I was devastated, but it wasn’t long before I recognised I’d had a lucky escape.
I think Jason was a compulsive fantasist who loved the sympathy and attention.
For a year I vowed to steer well clear of men, then in 2010 I met my current partner Paul*.
I met him through a friend so this time I felt confident I’d found a decent man.
Two years ago we had our daughter Nieve, and we’ve got another little one on the way in October.
Now with the man of my dreams I can see that being with Jason was a complete fantasy, and not in a good way.
Emma was devastated when she discovered her bogus boyfriend’s betrayal and wanted to name and shame her in the press. We helped Emma sell her story to a women’s magazine. If you’d like to speak out about your experiences, read through our ‘how to’ guides and fill in the form on the right.