Linda Nolan has revealed her hurt at being conned into caring for a young girl she believed to be a victim of the Manchester terror attack.
The singer, 58, who is battling cancer, told The Sunday Mirror she was cruelly tricked into thinking she was talking to a 25-year-old named Emily Hughes, who had been caught up in the suicide bombing at Ariana Grande’s concert in May.
But it turns out that Emily Hughes never existed.
Instead Linda had been catfished by a total stranger who spun a web of lies, setting up various Facebook profiles for members of Emily’s fictional family and friends, and even cruelly using one of those fake profiles to tell Linda that Emily had died from her injuries.
“This is a vile human being. How sick can a person get?” said Linda.
“I think she’s sick in the head – not only to jump on the bandwagon of the Manchester bombings when there are so many real victims, but to pick on somebody who has recently been re-diagnosed with cancer.”
Linda told The Sunday Mirror that she was initially contacted via Facebook by someone claiming to be Emily’s sister, who told her Emily was about to have surgery to amputate her leg following blast injuries, and a phone call from her idol would cheer her up.
The two women began to have regular correspondence and Linda grew to care for Emily.
However, the catfisher’s sickening hoax began to unravel when Linda was told that Emily had died from her bomb injuries the night before Linda was due to visit her in hospital.
Linda said she was devastated by the horrifying news but her grief soon turned to suspicion when she realised the official death toll from the suicide bombing had not risen.
When she asked Emily’s family why not, they claimed her phone had been stolen and someone else had sent the message about Emily’s death.
“When I found out it was all a hoax I just thought ‘why?’” she said.
“She must have got enjoyment out of making me feel rotten. I felt sick to my stomach, then embarrassed I had fallen for it.
“Her motive was probably to have a good laugh at my expense.
“I’ve just started cancer treatment, but in between all of that I took the time to care for this girl and she abused that. I feel victimised.”
Linda contacted police but they were unable to take any action as no crime had been committed.
Linda was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer earlier this year, after suffering a fall at home.
She was previously treated for the disease ten years ago and had beaten it.
“It’s very daunting…I’m devastated,” said Linda during a Loose Women appearance in April. “I feel so bad for my family having to go through all this again.
“They’ve told me it’s not curable but it is treatable. I’m not going to let it take me, I’m going to fight it every step of the way because there are so many things that I want to do.”