A VULNERABLE elderly woman has been forced to sell her popular wedding venue after a conman swindled her out of "tens of thousands" of dollars, leaving her with no money to live on.
Joy Wright, 70, has owned and operated her pride and joy, Waterview Estate, on Gavin St for the past 15 years but has been forced to put it up for auction on September 29.
Mrs Wright's son, Nick Champness, said his mum was suffering from early onset stages of dementia, which had left her a vulnerable target to a man who befriended her in the past 18 months.
"Mum's capabilities of being aware of the conman were legitimately diminished," he said.
Mr Champness said his mum had been conned out of all her life savings and she had no money left to live on.
"The conman did attempt to take more than her life savings," he said.
"He tried to get mum into a reverse mortgage."
Mr Champness claimed the man had taken Mrs Wright to "every financial institution in Bundaberg" until the application for the reverse mortgage - which allows people to draw on a portion of the equity in their property - had been approved.
"Once we found out about it, we took action immediately," he said.
Mr Champness said his mum's bank account had been queried on a daily basis and, when money would appear, the man would withdraw every cent until the account was wiped clean.
"We've spent $12,000 paying her outstanding bills," he said.
"I'm having to dig into my pocket to pay people the money that this person has taken.
"I feel as though he's stolen from me as well."
Mrs Wright is now living with Mr Champness and the rest of their family in Sydney while the matter is being dealt with by the courts.
"Part of what we are trying to do is get Mum diagnosed so we can get her some treatment," he said.
"Mum was going to pay for the treatment so she could have a longer, independent life. That opportunity has been stolen from her."
Mr Champness said the family was also trying to deal with refunding the brides and grooms who had already made bookings at the estate.
"We're honouring the use of the grounds until the property exchanges," he said.
"We can't honour them after that."
Mr Champness said he apologised to those who had to have their bookings cancelled.
He said Mrs Wright knew she couldn't keep Waterview for ever.
"But it didn't need to come this quickly."
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