Con artist lived in luxury Belfast hotel for fortnight pretending to be Sky's Eamonn Holmes
Eamonn Holmes speaks for first time of man who claimed to be him
A fraudster lived the high life as Sky News presenter Eamonn Holmes in a Northern Ireland hotel for an incredible two weeks before he was caught.
Holmes made the revelation on his TV show This Morning in response to news that Gloria Hunniford had been the victim of a shocking impersonation attempt.
Two years ago the Sunday Life reported that Belfast-born Eamonn and BBC broadcaster Stephen Nolan had been swindled by west Belfast man Jay Cartmill.
However, Eamonn had not talked publicly about the matter until yesterday morning when he spoke out in solidarity with Gloria.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed last week that the Rip Off Britain presenter was defrauded of £120,000 by a woman who posed as Portadown-born Hunniford.
Eamonn sympathised with her and revealed how he had suffered a very similar experience.
"It happened to me as well - exactly the same thing," he told viewers.
"They lived as me in the Europa Hotel in Belfast. There was only one other Eamonn Holmes in the whole of the UK, who is named after me, and lives in Glasgow.
"They lived as me in the Europa Hotel for two weeks with a credit card that said 'Eamonn Holmes', and they got away with it."
Jay Cartmill admitted two years ago at Belfast Crown Court that he had illegally accessed a credit card issued to Stephen Nolan on 42 separate occasions to steal £17,820. He said he had impersonated Eamonn Holmes and tried to take £30,000 from an account belonging to the TV star's company, Red, White and Green Ltd.
The charge stated that Cartmill obtained goods and services by falsely claiming he was authorised to use a Barclays Bank debit card issued to the account of Eamonn Holmes.
He appeared in court on a total of 76 charges.
On September 3, 2014, he was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Meanwhile, Gloria Hunniford spoke out on ITV's Loose Women programme yesterday about her heartache at being swindled.
The 76-year-old was the victim of a £120,000 scam.
The money was taken from her Santander account after a woman presented herself at a branch in Croydon, London, claiming to be the star. Speaking on the television show, Gloria said it became more painful after it emerged that the fraudster claimed to have brought her "daughter" to the bank, when her own daughter, Caron, died of cancer 12 years ago.
She said it had been 'easier for four strangers to go in and get her money' than it was for her to gain access.
The fraudster went into the bank with people she claimed were her 'daughter' and 'grandson', stating that she wanted to make the teenager a signatory on her account.
She had the star's bank details and then brandished ID and a bank card in the name of Mary Winifred Gloria Hunniford, the presenter's real full name.
That same day, Ms Hunniford had £102,000 drained from her account. A further £18,000 was taken later.
Santander has since reimbursed the stolen money.
Alan Dowie (18), from Surrey, who posed as the unknown fraudster's grandson, was last week spared jail. Police are still hunting for the fraudster and her 'daughter'.
Ms Hunniford told the programme that she feels violated by the scam.
"[The woman] said her daughter was with her. Sadly, I don't have my daughter any more," she said. "If she was going to try and look like me she should have had a wig that was the colour of my hair. I don't understand any of it."
Ms Hunniford read a statement from Santander on air. It stated: "Santander takes fraud extremely seriously. We have made significant improvements. Improvement to our processes ensure that this type of fraudulent activity is prevented in the future."