Mel’s $1000 vanishing sob story suitor
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.