THE personal ad in the newspaper read: "Lonely Lady, recently widowed seeking companionship, honest, loving and loyal".
And when a 74-year-old recently widowed victim read those words he felt compelled to write a letter to the woman to let her know he could empathise.
Unfortunately, the woman he had reached out to in the hope of forming some bond or connection with was Susan Diane Reed, a lonely heart scammer who in 2005 was jailed for more than five years for convincing elderly men to send her more than $135,000.
And she was up to her old tricks.
Within a year of writing that first letter the victim would send Reed more than $120,000 - money she said she needed for holidays, deposits on houses, cars, furniture and Christmas presents.
Reed told him she was expecting a $1.6 million insurance payout in relation to the death of her second husband and would pay him back.
But there was no settlement and Reed has not repaid him a cent.
Reed wept as she appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday via audio visual link from Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre.
The 66-year-old, who is represented by solicitor Mark Ramsland, pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception and the matter was adjourned to Newcastle District Court next month.
As well as the lonely heart fraud, Reed has been charged with fraudulently receiving benefits from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
In that case police allege she submitted fraudulent invoices to the NDIS for services she was never provided and subsequently received more than $174,000.
That matter is next in Newcastle Local Court on July 1.
In the recent lonely heart scam, the victim told police he saw an advertisement posted in the personal section of a newspaper in June or July 2017 which read: "Lonely Lady, recently widowed seeking companionship, honest, loving and loyal".
He reached out, writing a letter to say he was in the same boat and within a few weeks received a phone call from Reed.
They met up and Reed told him she had been married twice and that her second husband had died from an asbestos-related illness and she was imminently expecting a $1.6 million insurance payout in relation to his death.
"The offender's husband passed away in February 2015 from an illness unrelated to asbestos," police said in a statement of agreed facts. "There was no settlement claim."
Shortly after that first meeting Reed asked the victim if he would like to go on a holiday to Queensland and told him to transfer her $3000 to cover his share.
He transferred the money, but Reed kept making excuses and postponing or cancelling the "holiday".
This went on for months and the pair never went on a holiday and Reed did not pay back the money.
Between September 2017 and July 2018, Reed asked the victim to loan her large sums of money for various reasons and on each occasion would remind him that she was waiting on the $1.6 million settlement.
Again, when the settlement money didn't materialise, Reed had excuses ready.
The money the victim sent included $36,000 for a deposit on a house, $30,000 for a new car, $500 for Christmas presents, $4700 for new furniture and other lump sums up to $22,000.
Reed then changed her phone number and began contacting the victim on a private number.
She contacted him less and less until October 2018 when the victim asked Reed to repay all the money.
They met up and Reed cried and said she was still waiting on the $1.6 million payout and would repay the money. Reed didn't cough up a cent and in November 2020 she was arrested and charged.
She was granted bail but breached her bail when she was charged with the alleged NDIS fraud and has been behind bars ever since.
The modus operandi used in the recent lonely heart scams was practically identical to the way Reed operated between 1997 and 2004 when she netted $130,000 after placing ads in Sydney and Newcastle newspaper personal columns seeking relationships with men aged over 65.
She then developed relationships with the men over the phone before asking them to send her cash cheques to pay for cruise holidays they were to take together.