A British ‘Tinder swindler’ who conned a woman he met online out of £141,500 to fund his lavish lifestyle has been jailed.
Richard Dexter, 38, convinced Amrita Sebastian she was investing the money in a multimillion pound biopharmaceutical technology deal but in fact spent it on living expenses and paying off debts.
He wooed her with the promise of a life of ‘private jets and expensive cars’ and also claimed to have bought a hot air balloon ‘just because he could’, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.
The defendant, a father-of-two from Southsea, Hampshire, previously pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud and was convicted at trial of a charge of possession of articles for use in fraud and a count of perverting the course of justice.
Robert Bryan, prosecuting, told the court the defendant first made contact with Ms Sebastian in 2015 on Tinder, adding: ‘He claimed he was a successful businessman selling biopharma technology and was worth £6.8 million.
‘He said he was involved in Hollywood studios and he alluded to immense wealth, private jets and expensive cars.’
Mr Bryan said Dexter sent Ms Sebastian, an Indian national living in Dubai, a message saying: ‘I am 32, most of my friends did college and uni, all of them have debts and worries and all earn £40,000 to £60,000. I bought a hot air balloon yesterday just because I could.’
He added that Dexter claimed to earn more in interest from his investments than a doctor’s annual salary.
The prosecutor said that in October 2015, Dexter persuaded Ms Sebastian to invest in a patent catalogue including a ‘bioreactor paddle’ patent which he falsely claimed to have arranged to sell to medical firm 3M.
Dexter claimed the deal was worth £3.6 million and that she could benefit from 50% of this, the court heard.
Mr Bryan described how Dexter continued to ask Ms Sebastian for further sums to cover administration and legal fees – including when she was ‘extremely ill’ in hospital – until she had invested a total of £141,500.
But the prosecutor, reading from a police statement, said Ms Sebastian alerted officers in April 2017 after the defendant failed to pay her back any money, and she told officers: ‘As Dexter had so much of my money, I felt trapped.’
Mr Bryan said Dexter spent the money on living expenses and to pay off debts to friends and family as well as for a payment to a classic car company.
He added: ‘It must have been relatively high living.’
John Lucas, defending, described his client as a ‘bright man, a charming man’ and added: ‘He is sorry for what he has done. He is a well-educated young man who has made a big error of judgment.’
Dexter, wearing a grey suit and a pink tie, told the court: ‘I am very, very sorry to the point I think about it every day, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. I can’t justify myself or what I did.’
He added that he had £200,000 in three cryptocurrencies to pay back his victim and a proceeds of crime act hearing was set by the court to be held on April 7.
Sentencing Dexter, Judge Timothy Mousley QC said: ‘There is little sign of any remorse and certainly, in my judgment, no sign of genuine remorse.
‘You never spared a thought for her, you knew about her state of health but continued to take her money from her.
‘Dishonesty is a feature of your character, it’s profound and you are someone who shows no hesitation in resorting to lies with an ease that is almost breathtaking.’
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