Mel’s $1000 van­ish­ing sob story suitor

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - AVA BENNY- MOR­RI­SON CRIME RE­PORTER

AF­TER a night of lively con­ver­sa­tion over din­ner, ra­dio pre­sen­ter Mel Greig was im­pressed by the charm­ing, sharply-dressed man sit­ting across from her at the ta­ble.

But within a few days, sales­man James Harold Yates’s charis­matic de­meanour was gone.

Mr Yates, a for­mer DJ from the Syd­ney’s north­ern beach­ers, was nowhere to be seen af­ter al­legedly fool­ing the me­dia per­son­al­ity into lend­ing him $1000.

“He puts in so much ef­fort and he lures you in so eas­ily,” she told The Sun­day Tele­graph this week.

The 35-year-old host on Wol­lon­gong’s Wave FM is one of sev­eral women who have come for­ward to claim Mr Yates bor­rowed money af­ter recit­ing a con­vinc­ing sob story.

It was yet another blow in a chal­leng­ing few years for Ms Greig, who over­came de­bil­i­tat­ing de­pres­sion af­ter the in­fa­mous 2012 royal prank call on live-ra­dio, in which Ms Greig pre­tended to be the Queen check­ing on Kate Mid­dle­ton’s health.

By mid-2017, she had sep­a­rated from hus­band Steve Pol­lock and was liv­ing in Wol­lon­gong when Mr Yates con­tacted her via Face­book.

Un­known to Ms Greig at the time, Mr Yates had been charged with as­sault­ing an ex-girl­friend a month ear­lier. He is de­fend­ing the charge and ap­peared in Manly Lo­cal Court on Thurs­day, but was granted an ad­journ­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Grieg’s and other women’s ac­counts, Mr Yates had a spe­cific modus operandi when it came to dat­ing: add a woman on Face­book or In­sta­gram, start up a con­ver­sa­tion, progress to a first date and sud­denly “dis­cover” your bank ac­count has been hacked.

A doc­tor from one of Syd­ney’s busiest hos­pi­tals, who spoke anony­mously, said she had two dates with Mr Yates be­fore he asked her for money.

Mr Yates, who was dis­missed from his sales po­si­tion at News Corp Aus­tralia re­cently, al­legedly told her he lost all his cards and some­one had drawn $14,000 out of his ac­count.

“I was aghast at his ter­ri­ble luck,” she re­called. “When he asked to bor­row some money to tide him over un­til he could get some money off his dad who lived out of town, I did so with­out hes­i­ta­tion.”

The doc­tor thought of her­self as an in­tel­li­gent woman but was also “big-hearted and will­ing to help oth­ers in strife”.

Ms Greig, who filed a com­plaint with po­lice on Fri­day, said Mr Yates said some­one had taken $15,000 from his bank ac­count.

“The next day he was in tears be­cause he couldn’t af­ford to pay the $1000 ow­ing to his solic­i­tor for his court case which was sched­uled for the next day,” she said. Ms Greig lent him the money for the court case. She never saw him again and was shocked to later learn the court case was re­lated to an as­sault charge that al­leged he had hit his ex­girl­friend in the head. Through an on­line blog, Ms Greig wrote about her un­savoury ex­pe­ri­ence with a guy called “James”. She was over­whelmed by the re­sponse.

“In the past six weeks alone I’ve had dis­cus­sions with 10 dif­fer­ent women who all share the same story of lend­ing him money and not be­ing paid back,” she said.

Mr Yates could not be reached for com­ment.

Mel Greig in Syd­ney this week. Left: James Yates out­side Manly Court on Thurs­day.

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