Published: 13:56, 01 March 2017
Romance scam victim Anna Rowe has been sacked as a teaching assistant after going public with her campaign to change online dating law.
The 44-year-old from Rough Common, who was duped into a passionate relationship with a married serial womaniser she met online, has now been told she has lost her job at Faversham’s Ethelbert Road Primary School.
It comes after we revealed that Anna was calling for a change in legislation enabling people who create fake profiles on dating sites to be prosecuted for fraud, communication and sex offences.
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The story has since been reported in the national press and as far afield as the United States and India, where it was particularly used because the man who tricked Anna had initially used a picture of a Bollywood star on his profile page.
Anna, of Ross Gardens, said today that people were “horrified” to learn that her campaign to change the law had cost her the job she has done since September.
“The irony is that the school has been running an anti-bullying campaign in which the message has been that children must speak up if they want things to change,” Anna said.
VIDEO: Anna Rowe told KentOnline she wanted the law to change.
“If you stay silent, then nothing happens.”
Although Anna did not mention the Ethelbert Road School as her employer, she says the school sacked her because she had brought it into disrepute.
She said: “People were horrified to learn that I had lost my job just for speaking up about my campaign.
“The school was saying it had to do it because of the sexual content of the article and the mention of Tinder.
“This really is null and void. There was nothing overtly sexual in the article. I had to talk about what had happened to me as a vehicle to get the campaign to change the law moving.
“That is what all this is about.”
Anna, who is separated from her two boys’ father, has told how in the summer of 2015 decided she wanted to find love again and signed up for various dating websites including Tinder.
She was quickly matched to a man who called himself Antony Ray and says she found his picture and profile appealing.
But Anna learned that the picture Antony has used was in fact Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan. He then sent her real pictures via mobile phone app WhatsApp.
They met in November and embarked on a relationship which saw Antony visit her Rough Common home two or three times a week.
By May of 2016, however, Anna started seeing less of the man she believed was a London-
based businessman whose work frequently took him abroad.
And by September Antony had become totally distant before finally claiming his mother had cancer and he no longer wanted to be in relationship.
Anna, however, discovered that Antony was much still on the internet dating scene.
With the help of a tech-savvy friend, she learned that he was Antony Ray, but was in fact a high-flying of City of London lawyer with a wife and family in Yorkshire to whom he went home most weekends.
Her ordeal prompted Anna to campaign to change the law so that any caught misrepresenting themselves could be prosecuted.
She said: “I did not consent to have sex with a married man who was actively having relationships with women simultaneously.”
“The school was saying it had to do it because of the sexual content of the article and the mention of Tinder" - Anna Rowe
Anna has since also published a picture of the man purporting to be Antony Ray on her Facebook page.
After last week’s initial story was published, it was picked up by all the major national newspapers and discussed on LBC radio and the BBC’s Steve Wright show.
She is due to appear on ITV’s This Morning tomorrow and may also appear on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire show.
Anna said: “It’s been a whirlwind of a week. I just can’t believe how far it’s gone and how many people have been interested in the campaign.
“Yes, there have been some negative comments, but I’ve ignored them and concentrated on the message that I’m trying to get out. That’s the important thing.”
Anna’s petition to the government is on the Change.org website .
A KCC spokesman said they were unable to comment as the matter is an employment issue.
More by this authorAlex Claridge