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Man jailed for attempting to deceive woman in romance fraud scam

Custody image of Sebastian Timmis
Sebastian Timmis

A fraudster has been jailed after trying to deceive a woman he met through a dating site to transfer him money.

Sebastian Timmis was jailed on Monday 1 August after pleading guilty to fraud by false representation for a romance fraud he attempted.

On 1 May this year, the 30-year-old began communicating with a woman via a dating site.

Within a 24-hour period he told her he was looking for someone to fall in love with and that she did not need to keep her dating profile anymore now they had found each other.

He then quickly afterwards asked her to transfer him £50 for petrol, telling her his wallet had been stolen. When challenged he claimed his friends couldn’t help him, his family were abroad and he was unable to get to work without her financial help.

Suspicious of what she was being told, the victim chose not to transfer him any money. She did an internet search and found media stories showing Timmis had previously been sentenced for multiple romance fraud offences.

Timmis, of Hill View, Marksbury, was handed a 12-week prison sentence at Bath Magistrates Court.

He was also recalled to prison to serve the remainder of a previous sentence he received last year for similar offences and therefore will not be eligible for release until January 2024.

Officer in the case PC Rory Everitt said: “Timmis has repeated his behaviour, again trying to scam his innocent victim into giving him money. He clearly had no regard for her feelings and tried to prey on her generosity.

“Timmis’ scam was typical of romance fraud cases involving dating sites and shows many of the red flags that victims should be wary of.

“Firstly, the incredibly early declaration of love or talk of a long-term relationship. In this case it was without them meeting each other in person.

“Secondly, that Timmis claimed to be a victim of a theft. This is a typical romance fraudster’s ploy to pull at the victim’s heartstrings.

“And thirdly, he got the victim to communicate with him privately over Snapchat so it couldn’t be monitored. Moving off the dating app is a common tactic.

“We would urge anyone in a similar 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 online genuinely cares for you as they claim, they will not object to you being cautious.

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

PCC Mark Shelford said: “Firstly, I want to commend the victim for coming forward when she felt the demands of Timmis were not right; she recognised the red flags and didn’t give into pressure. Instead, she reported to the police and, thanks to her efforts, a fraudster has been brought to justice.

“Romance fraud is an awful, heart-breaking crime and romance fraudsters do not care about the feelings of their victims. If you or a family member or friend is a victim of this terrible crime, please come forward to the police or Action Fraud for support.”