A Preston former gambling addict defends against accusation he scammed people over Ukraine appeal
An ex gambling addict from Preston, who was once convicted of fraud, has just returned from a Ukrainian rescue mission called ‘Preston 2 Medyka’ but says he is now facing false accusations of fraudulently using donated funds, due to his past.
Between March 8-March 17, Paul Lord, 42 and another Preston man, who he shared a mutual friend with, took a car to the Ukrainian Polish border, where they gave out supplies to those in need, before helping refugees who had registered in Poland get to their forwarding destinations.
Paul said he wanted to help the Ukrainians because if his “wife and children were crossing the border with nobody to help them”, he would “hope that somebody would go to their aid”, but also as as he wanted to make up for his own “chequered past.”
Over a period of seven months across 2015-2016, Paul, then a letting negotiator for Reeds Rains, had diverted £23,315 of his clients cash into his personal accounts to fund his gambling addiction.
Although Paul had tried to return this money, in total he lost his employer £14,000, and they finally took him to court in February 2020, where the judge, taking into account his rehabilitation efforts, spared him jail, instead imposing an 18 month suspended sentence, 100 hours unpaid work, and £5,400 compensation orders.
Paul, who has recently set up a travel and events company, said: “Up until six years ago, I was horrible, I was addicted to gambling, and at the end of the day, my addictions and my selfishness cost me my marriage, my relationship with my children, and almost cost me my liberty… but being that person and coming close to going to prison has made me change my life around.
“When Covid started, I began doing fundraisers so that we could do things for the NHS and then when I saw these women and children crossing the border, I saw it as a way of me finally doing something big that would change some lives, and if I could go over there and even just change one life, then it would make me feel like I've done something good.”
However Paul’s charitable efforts for Ukraine went haywire on their return home.
Paul’s says he and his partner went their separate ways in a Polish town called Tarnow, when the latter left him without saying.
When Paul later questioned, he says his partner told him he was concerned about Paul closing the PayPal account.
Paul explained: “I’d stopped the PayPal donation, because we'd raised enough money. People were messaging me saying, let me send you some more, and I was like, look we're here only until Thursday, so don't send us any, if you want to send it somewhere else then that’s fine. For some reason, they took offence to that.”
When this partner returned to the UK, he posted a Facebook status explaining his suspicions about the way Paul was receiving money, which included Paul’s use of numerous accounts, and linked it to his previous conviction as a fraudster, which the partner had only just discovered.
In response, Paul had to produce full accounts of the way he dealt with the money, which he himself shared on Facebook, as well as apparently to Lancashire Police.
Paul said: “He’s just trying to deflect the fact that he left me, he didn't want to look bad in front of the 1300 people that was on our group… but he’s basically brought up my past as a tool to do that.
“Everybody that I care about knows my history, knows that I've tried to be a better person, I'm not going to set up a group and say, ‘this is what we're doing, but by the way, to all you 1300 people that I don’t know, I've got a history of addiction, and I'm doing it to try and make things better’.
“So it's just a ridiculous situation to be in, for me to have to come home after doing that for 10 days, and justify how much we raised, what we did, where it was spent, how much we gave to the refugees… But it's backfired because I've had nothing but love off everybody, saying things like people have got a past, we understand.
“I'm also still in contact with the people that I’ve helped, and I'm getting updates daily from them. There's a gentleman whose wife and son that I helped get to safety who's actually fighting in the war in Ukraine, and he found me on Instagram, and thanked me for saving them. So to me, whatever people say is irrelevant, all they've done is tried to drag up my past and ruin a good thing that I've done, but I'm always gonna take the positive out of it.”
Although Paul’s partner did not want to provide a comment in return, they confirmed to the Post that they have filed a report regarding Paul’s suspected fraudulent activity with action fraud.
Paul vehemently denies these claims.