‘Predatory fraudster’ jailed after targeting women on dating websites

Huntingdon Crown Court
Huntingdon Crown Court
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A ‘predatory, serial fraudster’ who conned women he met through dating websites into setting up mobile phone contracts has been jailed for nine months.

Daniel Pethers (25) of Hammond Close, Wittering, was locked up at Huntingdon Crown Court yesterday (Monday) after admitting five counts of fraud, and asking for three more to be taken into consideration.

The court was told the charges were in relation to six victims, who lived across the country, including in Nottingham and Kettering.

In total, Pethers gained more than £3,000 from his confidence tricks - but despite offering was not ordered to pay any of it back in court because of his jail term - although victims were reminded by Judge Peter Murphy that they could take civil action to regain the money.

Lawrence Bruce, prosecuting, said: “This is a predatory, serial fraudster who preyed on six vulnerable victims over a year.”

The court was told Pethers - who has a fiancé and a young family - contacted his first victim in November 2013.

He met her in Mansfield in December, persuading her to sign up for three mobile phone contracts.

He met his second victim online on December 30, using the name ‘Scott.’

Two days later they went shopping, with her signing up for two contracts. On January 5 he ceased all contact with her.

In August and September 2014 he met three more victims, giving them the ‘sob story’ of how he was struggling financially, and needed help - promising to put the contracts in his name at a later date.

Mr Bruce said: “These ladies trusted and confided in him.

“There is something sophisticated about this - to juggle so many victims at the same time.

“It was conducted over a sustained period of time.

“The monetary value may have been low, but the emotional impact, the prosecution say, is high. These were particularly vulnerable victims.”

Roger Harrison, defending, said: “He can, will and is asking to compensate his victims for the loss. He is in employment.

“He has two children he says he is devoted to, and has lived with his partner for three and a half years.

“He was suffering financially at the time. He was desperate to keep his family warm.

“He is a man of good character, and has entered a guilty plea.

“He committed the offences when he was at the end of his tether. He will not offend again.”

Judge Murphy, sentencing, said:” This was, in my view, serious offending for a number of reasons.

“Firstly, the number of women you tricked.

“Although the amount of money is not huge in the scale of things, I do accept there was a very considerable detriment to the victims, emotionally and possibly damage to future credit rating.”