Elaborate Dating Fraud Led To Mother & Daughter Suicide Pact


A woman has pleaded guilty to an elaborate scam that is believed to have driven a mother and daughter to suicide.

A UK court heard that fraudster Linsey Cotton created an dating profile in the name of Stephanie Wilson or Johnstone, using it to threaten three family members into handing over thousands of pounds.

It is alleged that the 33-year-old repeatedly contacted Michael McDonough as Stephanie Wilson/Johnstone, pretending to be injured, and in need of money to fund treatment run by a secretive company called Biotech Scotland.

She also told McDonough that the company enforced a confidentiality order, banning him from discussing her case with anyone, and eventually he gave her £6,685, as well as mobile phones and an engagement ring.

After he told his mother and sister – Margaret McDonough, 52, and Nicole McDonough, 23 – Cotton reportedly threatened the women with a 20-year long prison sentence for breaching a “confidentiality clause” if they didn’t hand over any money.

It is alleged that these threats took place between 1st and 16th May 2013.

Sheriff Robert Fife was told in Paisley Sheriff Court that the mother and daughter were left “petrified and tearful at the thought of being jailed”.

Three days after Cotton made the threat, the two women were found suffering from fatal slash wounds in an apartment at a Premier Inn in Greenock, Renfrewshire, and later died in hospital.

Cotton, who has two children aged 11 and 15, was yesterday remanded in custody after she pleaded guilt to receiving money through fraud.

The court also heard that Cotton acted out of desire to have a relationship with Mr McDonough, and her defence solicitor Gerry Bann requested that she be released on bail.

However, Sheriff Fife considered the case too severe and remanded Cotton in custody.

Her sentence was also deferred until next month, and the sheriff called for her to be examined by social workers.