A HEARTBROKEN Burnley husband who claims he suffered a honeymoon hostage hell at the hands of his Tunisian bride and her family has warned about marriage scammers.
Paul Fitzpatrick (56), of Pleasington Grove, was set to start a new life with his new wife Mbarka after a holiday romance and wedding in the North African country.
But the match made in heaven turned into the marriage from hell after he claimed he was taken captive on the first day of his honeymoon.
The former Army serviceman says he was kept locked up for 10 days while his 30-year-old bride and her family demanded money and spent hundreds of pounds of his savings.
Paul believes the whole marriage was a scam and has been left penniless after forking out more than £20,000 on his bride.
He is now urging others to beware of falling foul of heartless con-artists.
He said: “It was a scam. I really want to warn people. Don’t be taken for a ride in a foreign country.
“The main problem is that you’re in a Third World country so anybody from a western country is automatically thought of as a millionaire.
“They just see pound signs. They just see you as a cash cow. She was living the high life at my expense. She just wanted a meal ticket out of the country.”
He met Mbarka last year when he was on holiday in a resort in Tunisia. Despite his bride speaking little English, Paul said the pair hit it off.
The couple got married in April at a small ceremony in Tunisia but Paul said that that is when the mood changed.
“It was a holiday romance. At first it was fantastic. She came across as a nice person.
“We really got on. Then, as soon as we got married, everything changed.
“She became very cold and did not appreciate anything I did for her. She was just demanding things all the time.
“Since I met her I think I have spent around £20,000 on her – going over to see her, gifts and an engagement ring.”
Paul returned to Burnley in May and sent hundreds of pounds over to his new bride for rent, English lessons and living costs.
He returned to Tunisia to embark on a three-month honeymoon, but said that the situation turned sour. His wife was waiting for him at the airport along with two male family members who drove him to a house.
Paul said: “I had been sending her rent money and she had not been paying the rent. It came to 2,170 dinar. I refused to pay it so they locked me in the house.
“They locked me in for 10 days while my money came through from England.
“They were demanding cash and cards and telling me to ring the Bank of England. They were threatening to cut my fingers off. They put a knife across and cut them and said that next time they would cut my fingers off. I think they took about £1,000. I had to leave all my clothes, my computer and by belongings behind.”
He added: “All my savings have gone. Everything.”
He claims that he approached Tunisian police after he was freed but says they ignored his pleas and took him back to the house.
Paul appealed to the British Embassy but again claimed the service could not provide him with help.
He has since come back to Burnley and is trying to move on with his life.
The Express contacted the National Fraud Office which said that the alleged incident was a criminal matter which should be followed up by the police.
The organisation Action Fraud offers advice on romance scams and online dating fraud on its website.