Finally away from the clutches of her husband Mark Croft, Kerry Katona has never looked better.
Last week, the newly slender star was pictured outside her home clutching a Filofax, eager to restart her career again now that she’s signed up with Peter Andre’s management company Can Associates.
But the 29-year-old faces an uphill struggle as a Now investigation reveals that Kerry not only has debts of upwards of £500,000, but also faces the horrifying prospect of being made homeless in the next month.
That’s because she can’t keep up the £5,500 a month repayments on her house in Wilmslow, Cheshire.
An insider tells Now: ‘It’s Kerry’s castle – the only thing in her life that she’s ever owned. She’s always said: ‘They can have the Ferraris – just don’t take my home’. But she’s missed too many payments on her mortgage now and the lender’s sick of it.
‘It’s such a shame because she’s getting her life back on track, but the simple fact is that she’s made hardly anything since August when she was pictured taking cocaine.
‘Her earnings dropped from £500,000-a-year to nothing. In a matter of days she lost her Iceland deal (£200,000), MTV reality series (£200,000) and magazine column (£100,000).
‘And even though Kerry’s split from Mark, 39, he could end up costing her more money. She’ll always have to watch her back in fear that his dodgy contacts might target her next.
‘Mark has always mixed with drug dealers and criminals, so when Kerry came along they wanted a slice of her cash,’ adds our source. ‘Mark’s been paying thousands to these dealers to pay off drug debts that they’ve run up over the years.
‘Money would just disappear – tens of thousands of pounds – and it wasn’t all going on motors and fancy clothes. Mark bought most of his cars on lease and she shopped at Primark.
‘Instead of paying for cocaine he’d put it “on tick”, so they’d end up paying £150 a gram instead of £50.
‘Now that they’ve split up and Kerry wants to get on with her life, it’s not going to stop these shady figures from wanting their money.’
If Mark hasn’t got it, then it’s inevitable they’ll turn to Kerry. They’re not going to cancel the debt just because she’s clean and away from Mark.’
Mark has another weapon he can use against Kerry – their children Heidi, three, and Max, 23 months.
‘He’s never taken them out or shown them any affection, but he’ll cause plenty of trouble and make life as difficult as possible for Kerry,’ says our insider.
‘That man’s capable of anything. He’ll never be out of her life, no matter how much she tries to move on.’
To add to Kerry’s stress, her mum Sue, 50, could be her new flatmate. A source tells Now that Sue will definitely be evicted from her Warrington home – worth £140,000 – to pay off Kerry’s massive tax bill.
Kerry was declared bankrupt in August 2008 with £80,000 worth of debt, which has risen to over half a million because of accountant and legal costs. Our source adds: ‘Kerry’s been sticking her head in the sand, but her worst nightmare’s about to come true.’
The cost of Mark Croft’s schemes
It’s long been thought Mark was the one who set Kerry up when a camera was installed in their bathroom and she was filmed taking cocaine. It cost her £500,000 in lost work, but Mark got £50,000 from a tabloid.
Property in the Orkney Islands
Mark and their accountant, a convicted fraudster, persuaded Kerry to hand over £187,000 to develop holiday homes on the Orkneys. She had no real control over the investments. Our source says: ‘The supposed holiday hotspot is just an overgrown field.’
The Inland Revenue is investigating the payments Mark’s received from a picture agency for all the paparazzi pictures of Kerry he’s set up over the years – most without her knowing.
‘He thinks he’s in the clear because it was all cash in hand, but the taxman can see through all that,’ says our source.
Another example of Mark’s crazy schemes is when he spent £10,000 on second-hand fruit machines and pool tables, telling all his mates he was setting up ‘KK Amusements – the biggest pub supplier in the North’.
But he only checked them after they’d been delivered and found they were knackered. Also, it wasn’t the sort of deal he could claim a refund for!
See all the latest gossip on Kerry Katona in Now magazine every week!