SMOOTH talking money man Kole Lulgjuraj was ‘trusted implicitly’ by his clients, one of his victims has told The Northern Echo.

The 48-year-old gave the impression of financial success, but police believe he spent over ten years ripping off elderly clients.

He is suspected of stealing over £105,000 from a 55-year-old woman and her 82-year-old mother, who are from Darlington.

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Last year, the older woman, who suffered from dementia, died without realising the man she trusted is accused of stealing £81, 720 from her life savings.

Her daughter, who has lost £23,500, said: “She thought the world of Kola and thought of him as a son.

“I don’t think she ever realised what he did, which is just as well because she would be absolutely horrified.

“She trusted him absolutely implicitly and I did as well.”

The family knew Lulgjuraj, who was from Montenegro, when he worked for a company as financial advisor before he started in business on his own.

The woman, who works as a community centre manager, and has asked not to be identified, said Lulgjuraj’s polite demeanour made him plausible and trustworthy.

She said: “He was always very pleasant, very civil and courteous. "He was gentleman. He was of foreign extraction but had a good understanding of the English language. You would not have thought he had done anything wrong. When I found out I was horrified. I could not believe it.”

Police believe he started ripping the family off in July 2005 and the offending continued until 2011 after another client raised concerns about his business dealings and police were called in.

Officers believe he may have fled to the USA in 2012, fearing he was about to be charged with thefts totalling almost £1m, but concede he could be anywhere in the world.

The woman added: “Knowing him as a person I am horrified. I am very surprised. If I met him today he would still probably very courteous.

“I don’t think he did it out of malice. He probably thought he could get away with it and one thing led to another.

“But I would like to see him repay all of this money to people. If I could meet up with him today I would still like to do so and have a little chat with him shall we say.”