A Cautionary Tale of Friendship and Fraud
Written by David E Watters
Back in March 2011, the BBC reported on a “fake police” conman who had been targeting the gay community.
At that time, Matthew Attenborough was wanted by forces across the UK; including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Doncaster, Liverpool, London, Newcastle and Reading, in connection with several serious deception offences.
The suspected scammer had been targeting and meeting men, primarily via dating applications including Gaydar, Grindr, Growlr and Scruff, and was reported to be posing, at that time, as a police officer in order to gain the trust of his various victims.
In February 2011, Gloucestershire Police were called to a house near Cheltenham after a theft had been reported. The victim said that a man who had been lodging with him had made off with approximately £600 in cash and credit cards. The larcenous lodger was later identified as Matthew Attenborough, who was wanted in at least nine other force areas.
The victim said that he had met a man calling himself Saul White, who claimed to be a police officer from Avon and Somerset; who was transferring to Gloucestershire and needed a place to stay while he sorted out accommodation.
A key point which requires clarification is that Saul White is the name and stolen identity of one of Attenborough’s earlier victims; a man who now feels unable to use his given name because of this fraudster.
The REAL Saul White
Aware that this social-networking swindler was back to his old ways, the real Saul White (pictured) now feels compelled to publicly share his experience in a bid to alert others to the risks posed by an association with the cunning conman, who has gone by the names Danny Taylor, Steven Murphy, Saul White and quite possibly many others.
“I first met Steven Murphy, as he called himself, in November of 2010 on a gay app called Qrushr. He said hello to me, we got talking and he sent me a picture of himself in a police officer’s uniform; he told me that he was working at Wolverhampton prison in Featherstone.
We talked over the next month and as it got closer to Christmas I asked him what he was doing for the festive period. He told me that he had no plans so I invited him to mine. He agreed and on the afternoon of 23 December 2010, Steven arrived.
We talked about him moving in as he said he was living in a hotel and was looking for a room to rent.
On Monday 27 December, I returned from work and, walking into my flat, noticed that my MacBook wasn’t in its usual place.
As I walked about my flat, I realised that he had packed his suitcase and had taken a lot of my personal items, including a watch that had been given to me by my grandfather (and which, heartbreakingly, I have since seen him wear in pictures which he shares on dating apps).
I called the police and they sent a couple of officers out to take fingerprints and DNA samples; to prove that he had been there. They gave me a crime number and told me that if I needed to give any more info, just to call them. On a couple of occasions I called and left messages for them but got nothing back.
In March/April of 2011, however, I had a phone call saying that he had been caught and that he would be going to prison for a long time, as he had admitted to all that he had stolen from me. That was the last communication I ever had from the police.
Although arrested on 20 March 2011, in Manchester’s Canal Street, Attenborough is now out of prison and back on the prowl again; approaching and befriending men who use these various popular dating apps and websites. He was released into a bail hostel in Coventry and reportedly stayed in this area until the end of 2012.
A second and more recent victim of Attenborough, who is still emotionally raw from his experience is a man whom, to protect his identity, shall be referred to as FB.
FB recalls, “A person purporting to be Dr Danny Taylor contacted me on Growlr; not actually my type but being on my own for a very long time now, it was nice to actually get chatted up I suppose.
He said he was “Head of Compliance” for ITV and was moving down here from London. Danny, proper name Mathew Attenborough, said that he had been offered the role of Head of News for the Southwest.
After a while, around a week, Danny was due back in the area so we arranged to meet for a pint and some food. It was late so he stayed over; he was great company and I felt very easy with him. From that night he really never left, apart from for what he said were business trips.
In retrospect it is now evident that from the moment he entered my home he was attempting fraud and gain by deception.
He stole £6500ish on credit card abuse from me; used my address to try and gain bank loans and credit cards. He also stole my Regatta jackets, Animal trainers, three pairs of jeans and, bugger me, he even took an expensive suitcase to pack them in”.
Continuing, FB reveals, “I’ve known (the real Saul White) for years on growlr and eurowoof, and when we had a telephone conversation some weeks ago, catching up after a very long time, it became clear that we’d both been done over by the same person”.
There are similarities and differences in the experiences of each man. Attenborough alters some details as he hops between identities but some details remain consistent; both men interviewed have highlighted his use of EpiPen and a car accident which has had a long-term medical impact.
To FB, he was Danny Taylor, a medical Doctor but who no longer practiced because of a bad car accident; he had a heart booster in his chest and he carried around an EpiPen which he showed and expected FB to use.
Steven, as Saul White knew him, carried an EpiPen (as he claimed to be highly allergic to peanuts); he also told people that he was in a car crash and has a metal plate in his head; although this was never proven.
Additionally, and this is where truth and fiction blur, Danny Taylor claimed to have a “posh” apartment in Stratford; to drive a Range Rover and hold bank accounts with millions of pounds in them from a trust fund – statements which he showed to banks with a view to transferring the money to them.
It is fair to assert that these two men are only a small token illustration of the many whom have been taken in by this imposter.
They are speaking out because, as FB states, “The police treated me with the greatest of respect and although, at the time, I couldn’t have been more pleased, now statements have been taken and evidence submitted; all has gone quiet. It’s my view that they are not looking hard enough and “Danny” should have been on Crime Stoppers immediately. The police do not seem to be reactive enough; this is clear in that Attenborough is still visibly at large on the same dating applications and websites as before.
The impact upon victims is not simply financial, although this is dreadful in itself, but also both mental and emotional.
FB explains, “On a personal note I struggle to read things about him. This parasite is so good at what he does and just leaves a person empty and in a financial mess. He uses your own personality and needs to gain trust quickly. He also appears to fall for people rather quickly; to bring you in”.
“Even if you feel foolish, it’s nothing to be ashamed of”, assures the real Saul White, “call the police, as he undoubtedly will carry on doing this. Attenborough feels that he is invincible and can get away with it every time.”
If anyone has been affected by this man or knows of his whereabouts, there is a social and moral imperative to call the police. The more victims who do so, the greater pressure upon the police to act more proactively so that Matthew Attenborough can again be brought to justice.