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Fraudster jailed for duping women out of thousands via dating sites

A fraudster who groomed women on dating sites to scam thousands of pounds from them was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court last week on Friday 26 February. The sentencing follows reports made to Action Fraud and good work by Avon and Somerset Police.

Sebastian Timmis, of Hill View in Marksbury, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud by false representation in relation to offences committed between January 2018 and September 2020.

The 29-year-old used dating apps and websites to establish the trust of his victims before claiming to them he needed money urgently.

Timmis would pressurise his victims into transferring money to him, promising he would pay them back. He would make up time-critical scenarios that he needed cash for – including car repairs, utility bills or to pay for food – and never gave the money back. He instead used the money for gambling.

In total, Timmis defrauded 10 women out of more than £48,000. His victims included women from Bristol, Cheddar, Devizes, Bournemouth, Malvern, Cardiff, Birmingham and Cheltenham.

He was jailed for three years and four months.

PC Rory Everitt said: “Timmis scammed these women out of thousands of pounds and made promises he knew he could not keep about returning their money.

“He clearly had no regard for his victims’ feelings and targeted people he knew were caring. He preyed on their generosity.”

Last year, Avon and Somerset Police supported Action Fraud’s campaign to raise awareness of romance fraud, providing advice on how to prevent falling victim to scams through dating sites.

Between August 2019 and August 2020, Action Fraud received 198 romance fraud reports worth £2.4million from people in Avon and Somerset.

PC Everitt said: “Timmis’ scams were typical of romance fraud cases involving dating sites, where demands for cash are made from the victims, who feel pressurised to provide money for people they believe they can trust. Victims get told they need to provide the money quickly for urgent reasons, which often will be emotive and pull at heartstrings.

“We would urge anyone in that situation not to hand over money or personal details and to talk it through with family or friends if you feel under pressure. If the person you’ve met through the website genuinely cares for you as they claim, they will not object to you being cautious.

“And if you feel someone is trying to scam you, please report it to the police or Action Fraud – you could save yourself and others from falling victims to predatory fraudsters.”

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