A homeless woman has lured over 40 Manchester students to a house where they get mugged

‘She pulled out a flip knife and demanded I withdraw all my money’

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In Manchester a homeless woman, who goes by the name of Kelly, has been approaching students to ask for money for her accommodation before asking them to accompany her. She leads them down some back streets to a house where men are waiting to mug them.

Students reported having been approached by a homeless woman asking for food, who then asks for them to follow her to a house in Moss Side to pay £30 for her accommodation.

One student even reported she pulled a knife on him at a cash point and asked for all his money.

We spoke to 40 students who have all had encounters with "Kelly", who is now becoming a familiar face to those who have been victim to her manipulative stories.

This post, on a Facebook group called Fallowfield Students Group, from Lulua Maimoon, third year Law student at UoM, states: "Hey everyone, just wanted to alert people that there’s a homeless woman that is approaching people on Oxford Road (I was approached at the Sainsbury’s bus stop opposite SU), her name is Bernadette though she told me her name is Kelly. Her game is to ask you to buy her food, then as you walk, she’ll ask you to pay the remainder of her rent at a homeless shelter on the main road opposite Tesco instead. PLEASE be careful. Uni security officers were on the road so I took her to them, and they told me that she leads people towards Moss Side where they’re rushed into a house and have all their belongings stolen from them/led into a park and mugged.

"Hope nobody has to run into her!"

Students have been taken to a house down an alleyway behind the Shell garage near Whitworth Park

Lulua spoke to The Tab Manchester about her experience with Kelly/Bernadette: "She asked me for £17, she had £3 in coins in her hand and she said she’d already put £8 down at the place and said it’s £25 for the night. She told me a pretty elaborate story, afterwards the security told me none of it was true.

"She tried to get me to walk through the park a few times and I kept saying no. Then she was like that’s cool we’ll go right after Tesco, which is the way to moss side.

"I was contemplating how to get out of the situation because there weren't many people around but we were just outside MRI when I saw the security, a man and a woman, who helped me."

After many other people commented on Lulua's post, it was clear multiple students had been targeted by this woman, as their stories were all very similar.

We spoke to a few other students who had been approached.

Alice, first year Environmental Management, MMU

She came up to me asking for money for food. She came with me as I got my bike and we chatted and then she asked if I could pay for her to stay in a hostel. I got £40 out not really knowing how much it would cost (she’d mentioned like £30) and we carried on chatting as she lead me down some streets.

It was only when I started to not know where I was and we went down some alleys that I was a bit like shit this could go very wrong for you, Alice. Baring in mind I also had my bike.

Then we got to this house and she rang the doorbell loads but no one was in. By this point I’d freaked myself out so just said I’d give her the £40 and I cycled away pretty damn fast. I was pretty scared by the end.

Dion, second year Law LLB, University of Law

I was walking home on my own from a night out and she approached me asking if I could give her £30 so she could spend a night in some sort of hostel/shelter.

I was still somewhat drunk so was feeling generous and went to a cash machine whilst chatting to her. Once we got to the cash machine she pulled out a flip knife on me and demanded I withdraw all the money on my card.

Luckily my card only had £70 on it so that's all I lost. Once she took the money off me she ran off, and I went home.

I saw her on the curry mile again a few weeks later and she had the audacity to ask me for spare change so I just told her to fuck off or I'd report her to the police.

Chloe, third year Chemistry, UoM

She approached me outside Sainsbury’s by uni and asked me to buy her food so I said yeah shall I go into Sainsbury’s and buy you a meal deal and she said instead could I go to this cafe in this shelter instead cos they do hot food so I said yes.

She says it’s just down the road over here will you walk with me, as we were walking she starts talking to me and tells me this story about how she was in an abusive relationship how both her parents died so she ran away from Dublin where she’s from to here.

Then she said I’ve put down a deposit for money on a room for tonight will you pay the rest of it like I just want to have a shower have a roof over my head I want to sort myself out and get out of this mess.

So I said yes and she said it’s cash only can we go to a cash point

So we went to the cashpoint, she wanted £5 for the food £15 for the room, then she asked for tampons so I said okay I’ll give you £25 but obviously the machine doesn’t do fivers so I gave her £30.

As soon as I handed it over I went to say shall I go in to Tesco to get the tampons for you or would you rather do it yourself thinking I don’t wanna patronise her, but I barely finished my sentence and she just walked off speedily with the cash.

Doris, second year Sociology, UoM

I used to go to college in Rusholme so I'd seen her around a lot, she always said she didn't want money just a hot meal. A couple months ago when I'd just got paid she told me she was trying to get funds for a hostel room round the corner.

I asked her to show me the place because i wanted to make sure it was legit, on the way there she told me about how she ended up homeless and she struggles to find shelters.

The house she took me to was in an estate behind the car wash near the park. She said it was owned by a gay couple and they rent out a room to the homeless when they can. One of them was outside when I arrived and I asked him a couple of questions and he told me they do laundry and provide a hot meal and a bed, so I gave him a tenner for a night's stay for her.

She also gave me her phone number in case I had any clothes I could donate, but when I texted it a couple of days later there was no reply.

Looking back it was a pretty sketchy situation, especially as I had my pay packet in my bag, I wonder if they might have tried mugging me if i wasn't on my bike.

Alex, first year History, UoM

She started talking to me as I was walking past and just asked for a bit of food, saying she didn't want to take any money, then she kept on upping it by asking for me to pay for her rent for the night. She gets you to commit to something small and then keeps on asking for more.

She told a story about how she was in an abusive relationship and ran away and said she didn't have any documents so she couldn't work, said she was getting it sorted any day now (this was about four months ago, so obviously this wasn't true).

She asked me to walk into Rusholme to the place she was supposedly staying, I didn't really get why she would want this considering I'd already got the money out for her, seemed a bit dodgy, so I thought I'd just give her the money in case she was telling the truth and let her make her own way there.

Didn't really get why she'd want me to walk her just round the corner for any reason other than her having people waiting there, she was pretty persistent so I went with her but I just said I had to get somewhere else.

She walked off and I saw her outside Costa a couple of days later. I thought she might have legitimately spent a couple of nights elsewhere since I hadn't seen her in a couple of days, but apparently not.

She was absolutely filthy as well and was saying she just wanted a shower and stuff, just to have basic human rights, nothing more. She said one night was £20, but she only needed £15 because she had £5 deposit already down – she obviously knows the cashpoint by Lidl only does £10 notes so she always gets an extra £5 off people.

Kim, second year Popular Music, RNCM

She stopped me outside Costa on Oxford Road on the 28th of March, saying she didn’t want any of my money but could I please buy her a sandwich and a hot drink. She said there was a little cafe down the road, so we started walking together.

She started telling me her life story, about how one of her parents died when she was young and her other died last year, she’d escaped an abusive relationship in Ireland and her ex was the fault of all her downfall and took everything. She also took off her hat to show she’d cut most of her hair off because she couldn’t look after it anymore and kept saying she just wanted to end her life.

I kept asking where this cafe was, and she kept saying "just a little ways down the road", but eventually started telling me “I absolutely don’t want any your money, but there’s a home where they give out a bed for the night and some breakfast, I’ve put down £5 for a deposit for the key and I just need help paying for the rest, just for the night. I’ll get down on my hands and knees and beg for help, please don’t let me sleep on the street again”.

I asked how much, since she paid £5, it was £25 for the rest. I thought that wasn’t too bad and thought it would be a legit homeless shelter. We stopped at the cash point by Lidl so I could get money out and I asked her what the name/address of the place was so I could look it up before we went because I wanted to see if it was legit.

The place is "Lumley Close Flats", they’re down a side street off the back of Whitworth Park. I couldn’t see anything online about a legit homeless shelter, but felt quite awkward at this point as I’d gone this far with her. I was getting quite scared walking down the side streets.

When we got there, they just looked like regular flats, a bit dodgy, so I was getting nervous. The homeless woman said hello to this woman and explained I was here to help pay for the night.

I gave the money – I could only get £10 notes from the machine so thought I would get £5 change, but the woman who ‘runs’ the place didn’t have change on her. Then she kind of whispered to me “I don’t want your money at all, but is it okay if I keep the extra £5, I’m on my period and I really need some women’s products”. I said okay, and she gave £20 to the woman and took £10 and then just ran off.

I was left with the other woman who said she runs it out of her own pocket, she has four bedrooms which she lets out to homeless people and gives them breakfast in the morning. I asked if there was any way of finding out more about what she runs. She offered to give me her number, but then didn’t and just sort of pushed the conversation to an end and got to her car.

I felt scammed. £30 is a lot to give out as a student. I’d wanted to do something nice and was hoping to genuinely help someone out but just didn’t have a good feeling about it.

She claimed the shelter was on Lumley Close

Charlotte, third year Midwifery, UoM

She approached me near the hospital on Oxford Road and said she "didn't want money but just something to eat". She said there was a café up by Lidl.

As we were walking she explained if she could get enough money then she could afford to rent a room and get meals included at this shelter. She said she'd already paid the deposit so it was £20 left to pay.

Then £20 became £25 if she was to get food too.

She said it had to be cash, I said surely the shelter would take card. She said it would be cheaper with cash.

She specified one cash machine which it turned out only had £20 notes. She promised me change so I got out £40.

She then led me off down Moss Side at the back of Rusholme.

I knew it was dodgy and probably not right then. The house was empty and she was trying to get me to go in with her but I didn't want to leave my bike so I said I'd rather just give her the money but just £20.

She said there was a shop where I could get change. Then as we were leaving she said she was on her period and could I give her a bit of change cause she forgot to ask when we were in the shop. Totalling over £30.

Becky, second year Economics, UoM

She approached me outside Sainsbury's asking for food, I was going to grab her something from in there but then she said there was a cafe down the road that she wanted to go to to get in the warm.

She said she'd put a deposit down for a place to stay the night and asked if I would pay for the rest, insisting she didn't just want money but specifically wanted me to pay for the place.

I felt a bit uncomfortable but didn't feel like I could say no. The weather had been especially cold recently: she claimed two other homeless people she knows had died in recent weeks and she was fearful she would die from the cold too

As we got into Rusholme I became increasingly wary, but still felt I couldn't leave her. We stopped at a cash machine and I got £30, then she took me down a side street which was half-flooded and full of litter.

The house she was claiming to be renting a room in looked really badly kept, the whole street was really run down and at this point I was really scared, thinking I might get pulled into the house. A man came out who also looked homeless/badly kept, took the money from me and led her inside.

A university spokesperson said: “We have received no reports of a pattern of incidents of this nature taking place, and Greater Manchester Police have also confirmed that nothing similar has been reported to them. We appeal to any students and staff who have been victims of crime on campus to contact Security on 0161 306 9966 – this number is printed on the back of university ID cards.”