Detectives investigating the disappearance of a wealthy businesswoman are trawling her private life to try to discover the identity of a gang that has stolen her identity and removed thousands of pounds from her bank accounts.
Carole Waugh, 50, was last in contact with her family in April and concerns are growing for her safety after it emerged that at least three women had impersonated her and a man pretended to be her brother Chris to try to sell her £675,000 central London flat.
Ms Waugh returned to Britain in 2008 from Libya, where she had been working. Her family said she was seeking "Mr Right". Officers are trying to trace friends and other people she may have met online to try to discover if she is being held hostage and forced to hand over her bank details. Her family said she was a private person and they had only picked up snippets about her personal life in London.
Detectives yesterday issued new security camera footage showing money being taken from her account on 10 July, nearly three months after she was last in contact with her family.
The footage shows one man using her bank card at a cash machine outside a branch of Sainsbury's in Enfield while another stands a short distance away, before walking away with him.
Police said that a "significant amount" of money had been stolen since she was seen at a family party in Cumbria over Easter. They had been planning her 50th birthday party in June. She also told them she was also planning to visit Las Vegas with friends, but police have so far been unable to trace them.
Detectives have appealed for anyone who knew Ms Waugh after she returned from Libya – where she had been working as a finance manager for oil companies – to come forward. They said they were treating it as a London-focused crime rather than one linked to her former work in Libya.
Ms Waugh, who was wealthy enough not to need to work all the time, had worked on short-term contracts in London and had recently turned down the opportunity to work in Malta on projects linked to Libyan reconstruction. She would contact relatives regularly, even while she was living in Tripoli, her brother Chris said. "You would get a weekly or a fortnightly phone call to reassure everybody that everything was all right."
Detective Chief Inspector John McFarlane said: "She seems to be someone who enjoys life. We want those who knew her to get in touch."
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