David Coombs, 52, from Southampton, charmed his victims on Smooch.com before fleecing them out of a fortune by spinning a web of lies
A 'predator' conman spent £37,000 on living the high life at Claridges Hotel after scamming vulnerable women he met on dating sites.
David Coombs, 52, from Southampton, charmed his victims on Smooch.com before fleecing them out of a fortune by spinning a web of lies.
Coombs, who pretended to be a wealthy businessman, wrote £20,000 in dud cheques to both female and male victims, telling them he was a property developer or interior designer with a model daughter.
He even left one woman without a home as a result of his devious scheme.
Today he was jailed for four years after admitting nine counts of fraud at Southampton Crown Court.
The court heard Coombs would often give excuses of needing money from his victims because he had no access to his bank account or forgot his wallet and would always promise to pay back the money he borrowed.
One woman met Coombs for a number of dates, one in the exclusive Claridges hotel in London in which she ended up paying a bill of £4237.39 for a lunch, drinks and a hotel stay for Coombs.
Coombs said he had left his wallet in his office and his secretary had not been able to get it to him by the time of their date.
He asked the woman to give her card to the hotel but assured her no money would be taken from it.
Victim Carol Board was effectively left homeless by Coombs' scheming. He convinced her not to look for a new home, claiming he had links to a property for her family
The court heard he then had a 'jolly' at her expense buying expensive drinks throughout the night for himself and others and charging it to the room he had booked.
Another victim Carol Board was left effectively homeless after Coombs convinced her not to look for a new home after hearing her tenancy agreement was due to end as he had links to a property for her family.
She paid him £500 in cash in order to get the keys for the property which never materialised.
Hypnotherapist Miss Board, 52, told Southampton Crown Court she was given 'promises and excuses' when Coombs did not give her the keys.
In a victim impact statement she read out in court, she said: 'David Coombs' actions turned my family's world upside down for over a year.
Coombs met one woman on Smooch.com and then ran up a bill worth over £4237.39 on lunch, drinks and a hotel room at the plush Claridges hotel in London
'I do not have the same confidence any more, I do not trust like I used to.
'At the time I could not get out of the black hole he had created for us.'
The court heard Coombs even targetted a woman in a mental health unit, defrauding her of £7,500 as well as tricking elderly men and women into giving him money.
Coombs, who has 22 previous convictions for 62 offences including fraud and theft charges, was slammed as a 'predator; by Judge Peter Ralls QC.
He said: 'This is an unhappy case particularly for your victims.
'It does, as the prosecution say, demonstrate a catalogue of lies and deceit added to which threats when you were discovered or found out.
'You picked on obviously vulnerable people, conning them for everything you could get.
She said Coombs' actions turned her family's 'world upside down for over a year'
'You were like a predator waiting for those individuals, your prey, to come.. You systematically and ruthlessly took advantage of their good nature and honesty.'
Judge Ralls added: 'You are a conman who uses people as and when you can, regardless of the effect on them.
'The people you dealt with and contacted were often women who you were able to charm and ruthlessly take advantage of.'
Speaking after the sentencing Carol Board, 52, said: 'He will be out in a year and a half and will carry on doing the same thing again.
'I want this man exposed because when he comes out he will do it again. If I can stop him hurting one more person or family then it will be worth speaking out.
'He looked for any opportunity and targetted vulnerable people. He will use anything he can find that he can use to take advantage of someone.'
PC Hair, one of the officers who investigated, the crimes, said after the case: 'David Coombs has spent years spinning a web of lies purporting to be a wealthy businessman with multiple properties, expensive cars and off shore bank accounts.
'His persistent offending has had an immeasurable effect on the lives of his victims, not just financially but also psychologically.
'Coombs has spent the last 22 months avoiding police and attempting to evade prosecution. Today's result shows Hampshire Constabulary will always continue to pursue complex matters regardless of anticipated difficulties or longevity.
'I would like to thank the victims involved in this investigation, not just for having the courage to come forward, but also for understanding the complexities of the investigation and to have maintained confidence in us throughout what has been a long and protracted case.
'Without the support of the public it is not possible to bring prolific offenders such as Mr Coombs to justice.'