A GRIEVING widow conned by a fraudster who stole inheritance money left to her children has spoken this week about the devastation caused by the thief's slanderous claims they were having a lesbian affair.
Iranian Farzaneh Hooshaiari says the lies made up by Luna Kordavani as a defence in court have led to threats from people in her native Iran, where homosexuality is a crime.
Speaking exclusively to the Observer, she said: "The whole experience has been absolutely devastating for me and my family and I just want to get my reputation back, which has been damaged by these ridiculous lies.
"I took this girl in when she had nowhere to live. I thought that I could trust her and then she stole thousands of pounds from me and spread terrible lies. We have had threatening phone calls and knocks on the door because, in Iran, this is a very bad thing to say about someone.
"Not only will I be thinking twice before I trust someone again, I will be thinking five times about it."
When 26-year-old Kordavani first came to this country, her sister introduced her to Ms Hooshaiari in the hope that the mother-of-two could provide her with somewhere to live.
She agreed to rent out a room attached to her family home and, soon after, her husband died following a serious illness.
Five months after his death, the attached flat was flooded and Ms Hooshaiari agreed to let Kordovani move into her home while it underwent repairs.
Mr Hooshaiari's dying wish was for the £40,000 he left for his children's education to be invested in an Iranian bank but Mrs Hooshaiari, struggling to come to terms with his death, was unable to arrange the transfer.
Kordavani overheard her difficulty in sending the money back to Iran and exploited her vulnerability by offering to help.
However, when Mrs Hooshaiari handed her the money, instead of investing it, Kordavani bought a property in Iran.
While the fraudster was in Iran, Ms Hooshaiari discovered that Kordavani had also run up in excess of £40,000 in credit card bills in her name, had received a loan for a £16,000 BMW while claiming to be her, and had attempted to obtain a £70,000 loan against her home.
She had not been aware of the ruse before as the fraudster had redirected mail elsewhere.
Kordavani was found guilty on 20 counts of fraud at Harrow Crown Court this week.
Ms Hooshaiari's 19-year-old daughter added: "We always knew that she would be found guilty. She is a very devious woman.
"When we first heard she was claiming the money was given to her because she was having an affair with my mum, we thought it was laughable. It's just ridiculous.
"But people in Iran get executed for things like that and it has had a terrible impact on my mum's life.
"We actually now believe that she may have been living here illegally and is claiming to be a lesbian because human rights laws may protect her from being deported.
"I never really thought this kind of thing actually happened to anyone and it is unbelievable that it happened to us.
"Our family was going through a difficult time after my dad died and she used that to gain our trust and tear our lives apart.
"Thankfully the jury, who unanimously found her guilty, saw through her lies and deception and hopefully she will pay for the damage she has caused us all."
Kordavani is due to be sentenced at Harrow Crown Court on May 7.