Dalene Crawford has been convicted of fraud after she fleeced a mother of R65 000, over Facebook, to rig a paternity test.

Alleged Facebook con woman Dalene Crawford, who has been accused of fleecing a mother who wanted to rig a paternity test, is behind bars.

Crawford, 40, of Pennington on the South Coast, was arrested on Thursday just hours after new mom Deidre Rugg told a Durban regional court magistrate that she had handed over R65 000 to Crawford – a Facebook friend she had never met – who was supposed to be helping her to manipulate a paternity test.

Rugg had wanted the test to reflect her present boyfriend as the biological father of her six-month-old baby, not the real father who she considered “unstable”.

Rugg, who pleaded guilty to attempted fraud and received a three-year suspended sentence, said Crawford had initially asked for R1 500 but, in February, kept on demanding more money, not only for herself, but for “blackmailers” who wanted money for their silence and others – including two magistrates – who were said to be helping her.

Sick of “living a lie” Rugg went to the police in March.

On Monday, Crawford’s adult children and her sister were in court when she made her brief court appearance before regional magistrate Sharon Marks.

The case was initially adjourned until next week.

When Crawford’s anguished cries could be heard from the cells under the court, prosecutor Barend Groen was called back, and it was agreed that the matter would be adjourned until tomorrow for her to plead to the charges.

Groen said he would supply her legal aid lawyer with all statements by Tuesday to allow him to prepare the plea.

According to the charge sheet, she was facing a charge of fraud for conspiring with Rugg to manipulate a DNA blood test.

She had been charged with extortion for “threatening and inspiring fear in the mind of Rugg” that she would go public about the rigged test unless Rugg paid her R45 000.

She has also been charged with forgery and uttering for generating a document stating that the biological father was almost certainly not the father of the child.

Rugg, in her plea, said she had received an MMS (a picture message) from Crawford of a certificate stating that it was 98.8 percent certain that her ex-boyfriend was not the father of the baby – even though no blood tests had been taken from anyone.

Rugg said she had never received the certificate.

It was expected that Crawford could face further charges concerning allegations that she had used the names of local magistrates and a social worker, claiming to Rugg that they were helping her with protection orders. - The Mercury