The Zoom tutor who scammed parents for thousands: How ‘scumbag’ teacher offered children online tuition… but cancelled classes claiming she had cancer then refused to return the cash
- EXCLUSIVE: Louise Hadley, 50, from Derby, accused of scamming caring parents
- The con artist took thousands of pounds from unsuspecting parents
- HAS LOUISE HANDLEY CONNED YOU? Email [email protected]
Parents around the country claim they have been conned out of thousands of pounds by an alleged serial scam artist.
Louise Handley, 50, from Derby, has made thousands by preying on caring parents who wanted their children to have extra tutoring to do better at school.
Speaking to MailOnline, parents and even friends of Handley have lifted the lid on the ‘scumbag’ trickster.
There are parents across the UK who say they have been left out of pocket and devastated by the actions of Handley, who they trusted to be with their children.
Since online learning became more common after the pandemic, she has even tried reaching parents in the US and Canada.
Parents have called for her to be stopped but many feel abandoned by the police or think there is no point in going to them.
After all, there are 900,000 frauds reported each year in England and Wales but less than one per cent result in a criminal conviction.
Louise Handley, 50, (pictured) from Derby, is thought to have has made thousands by preying on caring parents who wanted their children to have extra tutoring to do better at school
Speaking to MailOnline, parents and even friends of Handley have lifted the lid on the ‘scumbag’ trickster (pictured)
Messages like this one haunt parents who say Louise Handley conned them. This comment was left under a post by a parent looking for a GCSE maths tutor this year
- HAS LOUISE HANDLEY CONNED YOU? Email [email protected]
Handley has a psychology degree but is allegedly not providing the services she claims to.
Many parents who spoke to MailOnline slammed the authorities for not wanting to hear their complaints about Handley, who repeatedly cancelled lessons for a variety of reasons – from her teenage son allegedly being sick to claiming she has cancer.
When she was present in lessons, parents alleged she chatted to the kids for most of the time and barely taught them anything.
They suggested this was to glean information from the children to know how to become more friendly with the parents.
Research by MailOnline has found nine different County Court Judgments from 2018 to 2022 that show Handley has unpaid debts of £8,922.
However, it is feared the total of sums involved may be much higher.
There is even a Facebook group dedicated to revealing her cons where scores of parents share their stories of being conned by Handley.
One parent branded Handley a ‘scumbag’ while others revealed how she had made them feel at ease before demanding more and more money, which they often felt obliged to give her.
Harriet Gore, 49, from Preston, said she and Ella, her 17-year-old daughter with learning difficulties, were left devastated after they realised Handley had conned them.
This summer, high school inclusion manager Harriet paid Handley a total of £435 to tutor Ella in psychology.
Handley was also meant to provide books related to the course, for which Harriet paid £95.
Searches on Facebook revealed she has offered her tutoring services on UK-wide and even international groups
This is the first message Louise Handley sent to Harriet Gore, who ended up paying her £435
The messages revealed how she promoted herself to take on more paying clients for tutoring
By the end of summer, the books had never arrived and Handley only carried out eight of the 16 arranged lessons.
She demanded a refund but although Handley agreed to pay her back, Harriet said she has never returned a penny.
Harriet told MailOnline: ‘Louise made you feel completely at ease. You have got that trust straight away with her.’
She agreed to a test session with Handley, which ‘went fine’. She then paid her £100 for five hour-long sessions.
Harriet said: ‘As soon as that payment was made that’s when the messages started asking for more money.
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‘I paid an extra £100 so she didn’t lose her place.’
However, she said Handley’s lessons were not instructive, they were ‘just talking’.
She said: ‘She was gathering information from my daughter and she was trying to be my friend.
‘Louise would start with the topic and then go off track.
‘She would cancel lessons mid-lesson. She never actually had a [proper] lesson.
‘It felt like we were being groomed by Louise.
‘Usually, you pay up front but with Louise it was constant messages.
‘When she’s asking for more money you don’t question her because you trust her.
‘When I found the [Facebook] group I was completely devastated.
‘I can’t believe I didn’t see the signs. You can’t believe someone would do that to you.’
Messages from Handley to Harriet across two months showed the multiple times the con woman cancelled or changed the times of her lessons
A recurring theme was for to say she had cancer, which meant she couldn’t teach the lessons.
However, she didn’t suggest returning the money for the hours she didn’t work because of her alleged disease.
Harriet said: ‘Now she says she has cancer again and she says it’s a protected characteristic so you’re not getting your money back.
‘We are going to the small claims court to try get the money back.
‘There’s absolution nothing you can do. The police aren’t interested. You put in on the Action Fraud line and they don’t reply.
‘She must be making thousands and she’s doing it on the back of children.
‘[Louise] does not care. She takes money and runs.
‘Her power is a DBS certificate.
‘If you’re DBS cleared you think she must be fine.’
The Disclosure and Barring Service does not approve or reject certificates. Instead, it detects and displays previous convictions on a certificate that it issues.
According to an Enhanced DBS certificate issued in April 2022, which Handley provided to a parent, she has never received a caution, conviction, reprimand or warning from police.
Harriet added: ‘Our daughter was 17.
‘She teaches online so she has a bigger audience now.
‘It is bizarre.
When Harriet said she wanted to stop the lessons, Handley said it was ‘clear’ her daughter needed help and said without it she was ‘at risk of failing’
She later suggested because cancer was a protected characteristic Harriet would not get her money back
Harriet is not the only parent complaining about Handley.
Samantha Thomas, 41, from Derbyshire, works at a community school and was another parent who says she lost money to Louise Handley.
She told MailOnline that Handley messaged her on Facebook after she posted about wanting a GCSE tutor for her daughter.
Samantha revealed how, by playing on the fact they had grown up in a similar area, Handley was able to trick Samantha into trusting her.
The mother-of-one gave Handley hundreds of pounds before she realised what was going on and pulled the plug on the lessons.
She said: ‘We spoke on the phone and she linked back to how I would have known her dad [growing up].
‘That was that level of trust.
‘She never answered questions but made lots of links.
I’m frustrated at how I trusted what was being said to me.
‘I had given her a lot of information but I hadn’t got much back from her.
‘She would pressure you to book more appointments.
‘She cancelled, she postponed. She would say, “I can’t this week but would you like to book another one?”
‘You would book one and it would be in the diary for two weeks’ time and then 24 hours later she would call to book another for four weeks’ time.’
Samantha, who has a background in business, found this strange and decided to listen to one of her daughter’s lessons with Handley.
‘For 40 minutes it was just chit-chat,’ Samantha said.
‘My blood was boiling. My daughter received 20 minutes of tuition.’
She said even for those 20 minutes, Handley was just making obvious remarks rather than imparting wisdom about the subject.
Samantha added: ‘You’ve got a fool trying to teach [my daughter].’
Luckily, Samantha was able to get most but not all of the money back after she went to her bank and Derbyshire Police.
She was one of the lucky ones.
Another parent, a 55-year-old mother from London, feels she was scammed out of £300 in 2016 after agreeing for Handley to tutor her 18-year-old son for his A-Level Psychology exam via video call.
She chose Louise through an online tutor site after reading her ‘amazing’ profile.
She said: ‘The first lesson was free and my son said she was good.
‘You pay for four lessons in a block but after the first lesson it triggers the next block.’
It meant she had to pay for seven lessons even though Louise had only completed one so far.
Samantha Thomas, 41, from Derbyshire, works at a community school and says she lost money to Handley. Pictured: Samantha with her daughter Emily, who was 15 at the time
However, lessons started being disrupted by what Handley said was poor internet connection, which she blamed on the family and wouldn’t rearrange.
Then Handley told the mother she needed to buy books ‘that you can’t live without’ if her son wanted to pass.
The mother said: ‘I thought she was a bit crazy. She was so convincing. Then I realised what I was dealing with.’
She told Handley the lessons would be stopping and she wouldn’t pay her any more money.
The mother said: ‘She came back and said I was a terrible mother and said, “how can you do that?”
‘Nothing scares her. She’s an absolute loose cannon.
‘I’m in shock she is still out there doing this. The gall of the woman.
‘I couldn’t afford anyone else to pick up the pieces.
‘I wouldn’t even want to look at her. It was so upsetting. It was so devious.’
Another parent, another 55-year-old mother, this time from Staffordshire, says she was conned out of £378 by Handley in 2017.
At the time it left her ‘shocked’, ‘angry’ and in ‘disbelief’. It still sets her on edge today.
She and her husband took Handley to small claims court but were told they wouldn’t get their money back.
When MailOnline asked what she would say to Handley today if she could, the mother said: ‘How can you rip off so many people? You’re supposed to be a teacher.’
She said Handley was ‘narcissistic’ and told ‘blatant lies’.
The mother said: ‘She did me as well. Of course she’ll keep doing it because there are no repercussions.
‘She kept asking for more money. She wanted £40 to order psychology books.
‘How could somebody do this?
‘I can’t believe nothing is being done. She’s robbing people and nothing is being done.
‘When I did contact the police they said it is a civil matter.
‘It’s shameful. She’s still doing it.’
The mother described the toll the whole affair took on her emotionally as ‘exhausting’.
She said: ‘You blame yourself. She plays the victim very well. You feel like you’re in a daze.
‘How can somebody act like that but there’s nothing I can do about it?
‘How can she be getting away with it?
‘There’s no one we can go to. No one wanted to know.
‘It doesn’t seem right.’
Her son was in his first year of A-Levels when he started lessons with Handley.
Although he passed, his mother thought he ‘could have done better’ if it wasn’t for con woman Handley.
When she found other parents who say they went through the same online, the mother realised she had been conned with ‘the same MO’.
‘It’s just awful,’ she said.
‘I feel for other people, not just myself.’
She urged other parents to ‘warn everybody about this woman’.
‘Don’t be hoodwinked by her,’ she added.
She said Handley sent her messages across different platforms during a single conversation, making it difficult to keep track of her messages, or to screenshot them and show what was happening.
This particular mother did not forget what had happened, nor did she lose track of the messages.
Messages and emails seen by MailOnline show the shocking extent of Louise Handley’s elaborate cons.
But she wasn’t always careful. In one email to this mother, she admitted to calculating her fee wrong.
She said this was the ‘reason I don’t teach maths’.
However, Louise Handley does teach maths. In fact, Handley conned a 43-year-old mother from Hampshire earlier this year as she tutored her son for his maths statistics GCSE.
In one email to this mother, she admitted to calculating her fee wrong. She said this was the ‘reason I don’t teach maths’. However, Louise Handley does teach maths
The Hampshire mother said Handley had taken advantage of the fact she was a busy parent who didn’t have time to help her son with his revision.
She claims Handley conned her out of £85, but what really angered her was that her son didn’t perform as well as he could have on his maths statistics exam.
She said: ‘I was more upset about having my son let down so badly ahead of his GCSE.
‘My son missed out because of Covid. There are big gaps in his learning.
‘The whole way through [she] was cancelling appointments.
‘The last month she put quite a lot of pressure on to pay the money up front and then did pretty much none of the appointments we had arranged.
‘He was let down so badly. I’m annoyed at myself because I should have known better.
‘He passed but he could have done better than that.
‘I have been completely scammed.’
She said she had ‘no idea’ Handley’s lessons were so poor. Every time she stepped into the room to see her son on video call, it sounded legitimate.
‘She was saying all the right things. I took her word for it.
‘I feel so stupid for having been [conned] but I’m a trusting person.’
She said Handley needed to be stopped because of the ‘upset and distress that this causes people’.
According to one of Handley’s friends from college, she used to be a ‘lovely’ girl from a ‘well-to-do family’ who lived in a ‘nice area’.
However, her life seems to have gone downhill after she left college.
The friend, who was in the same psychology class as Handley, said after a school reunion years later, the con artist started begging her college friends for money.
Screenshots of messages show Handley asking for money to book taxis and pay her rent.
When MailOnline approached Louise Handley about the allegations made against her, she said they were ‘false’.
Handley said: ‘I have been teaching for 28 years. I do have cancer.
‘Do you want to see that I have cancer? That I am vulnerable.
‘I will send you a copy of a medical report that shows I have bladder cancer. You cannot hound people who are fighting the fight of their lives.
‘This has distressed me a lot. I just want to be left alone to concentrate on my health.
‘This is a disgrace. I am not well. Cancer is a protected characteristic.
‘I would advise you to contact the urology department to talk to them. Hounding people with cancer is not acceptable. I feel very distressed, my mental health is not good.
‘Make sure you include the bladder cancer.
‘I have cancer, trying to get well again. Publishing a protected characteristic is not permitted.
‘I have cancer, any documents in my possession are genuine, therefore you will be printing inaccurate information.’
Louise Handley never sent MailOnline a copy of her medical record or offered any proof that the multiple allegations made against her were false.
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, confirmed it received a report about Handley in September this year.
She said: ‘It was assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) at the City of London Police but has not been passed to a police force for investigation at this time.
‘With more than 850,000 reports coming into the NFIB each year, not all cases can be passed on for further investigation.
‘Reports are assessed against a number of criteria which include the vulnerability of the victim.
‘However, the reports most likely to present an investigative opportunity for local police forces, those where a crime is ongoing and those that present the greatest threat and harm to the victim or victims concerned, are the ones that are prioritised.’
The National College of Policing said: ‘We wouldn’t be able to comment on individual investigations that would be a question for the forces.’
Derbyshire Police refused to comment about Louise Handley.
It said: ‘The force takes reports seriously and will conduct a proportionate and thorough investigation. Should there be an outcome where an investigation is filed without further action being taken then this will be communicated with the victim.
‘If someone believes they have been a victim of a fraud then they should report it so that investigations can be conducted to ascertain whether any crimes have been committed. Reports can be made to your local police force or to Action Fraud directly.
‘Action Fraud is the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. This is run by the City of London police – which leads the UK policing portfolio for economic crime.’
- HAS LOUISE HANDLEY CONNED YOU? Email [email protected]
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