Heartless scammer finally Jailed

A heartless conman that groomed women over dating websites and then tricked them into handing over thousands of pounds has finally been jailed after pleading guilty to multiple counts of fraud.

29 year old Sebastian Timmis from Somerset, targeted 10 women from different parts of the UK and preyed on their kind nature to con them out of their money. Timmis used dating sites and apps to strike up connections with women, he especially targeted women with caring natures before he claimed to urgently need money for a variety of made-up scenarios such as not being able to feed himself, or his car breaking down. He promised his victim he would pay them back, but of course he did not and the court heard how he spent his ill gotten money on gambling.

He committed the offences over a two year period from January 2018 to September 2020 before victims reported Timmis to authorities. He pleaded guilty in court, so victims did not have to be put through the additional trauma of a long trial, however during his time online, he managed to con more than £48,000 out of these victims. Every time he asked one of these trusting women for money, he promised to repay them. He never repaid a penny to victims who were undoubtedly left heartbroken by this mans actions. He was jailed in court for three years and four months for 10 counts of fraud by false representation.

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

What is a romance scam?

A romance scam or romance fraud can be particularly heart-breaking as it often involves vulnerable people being targeted by cruel individuals looking for nothing more than to take someone’s money. They often involve months and sometimes years of grooming, where the victim believes they are in a genuine loving friendship or relationship with someone who cares about them. People who are targeted are often vulnerable and may live alone and not have access to a wide social circle. When the first Lockdown started nearly a year ago, many of us were forced to stay home. But so too were the scammers and authorities all over the world reported a sharp increase in romance fraud as people were stuck at home more isolated and often desperate to seek out nurturing friendships and possible relationships. For people that are targeted, the emotional impact can be even more difficult for a victim to come to terms with then the loss of money. It is also believed that the true number of romance fraud cases reported is only the tip of the iceberg as more often than not these crimes go unreported by people who feel embarrassed or ashamed and never take the next step to report it to authorities.

Action Fraud recommend the following tips to avoid romance scams:

  1. Don’t rush into an online relationship – get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions.
  2. Analyse their profile and check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into your search engine.
  3. Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.
  4. Evade scammers by never sending money to, or sharing your bank details with, someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you’ve been speaking to them.
  5. Stay on the dating site messenger service until you’re confident the person is who they say they are. If you do decide to meet in person, make sure the first meeting is in a public place and let someone else know where you’re going to be.