201704.07

Do You Use Internet Dating Sites? Do You Know Who You Are Meeting?

Internet dating sites are sadly fertile ground for fraudsters and even highly intelligent professional people can fall victim. In a case that underlined the wisdom of seeking professional advice before trusting others with your money, a hospital doctor was fleeced of her entire savings by a believable conman she met online.

The man had claimed to be a multi-millionaire barrister and talked her into taking a tenancy on a listed home where they would live together. The rent went unpaid and the woman was persuaded to take out loans that she could not afford. By the time the truth emerged, she had lost her home and only £25 was left in her pocket.

He had 130 previous convictions on his record and had used 13 different names during his criminal career. He had only been out of prison for a few days when he used an online dating site to target the doctor. He was ultimately jailed for nine and a half years after being convicted of a number of frauds and other offences.

The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal rejected his challenge to that sentence. The Court noted that the impact of his crimes on the doctor had been devastating and that he was a habitual conman from whom the public urgently needed to be protected.

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