A man who used dating websites to defraud vulnerable victims has been jailed for five and a half years.
Zac Langley, formerly known as Andrew Penfold, 38, of Poole, pleaded guilty at Bournemouth Crown Court on 23 September to 15 counts of committing fraud by false representation and breaches of his Serious Crime Prevention Order. He was sentenced on 14 November.
He used dating websites to meet and befriend women, gain their confidence and persuade them to loan him money.
The court was told that Langley met one of his victims on the dating website Plenty of Fish in December 2015, four days after his release from prison for similar fraud offences. He told his 35-year-old victim that he was a commanding officer in the Royal Marine Intelligence Corp, his family were wealthy and owned an import/export company at Southampton Docks and had inherited a property in Canford Cliffs. The victim and her mother were both ‘smitten with him’, the court heard.
In January this year, Langley told the two women that he was due a big payout from his family business, but he needed some short-term cash to help him with his property development ventures. The pair took out loans totalling almost £105,000 and transferred the cash to Langley. He purchased a Range Rover Evoque with the money and soon after part-exchanged it for a new Range Rover Sport, taking on the credit payments. One of the women took out personal loans with Amigo and Loans2go both of whom, as a gesture of goodwill, have since written the debts off.
Langley, while dating his victim in the Poole area, used the fraudulently obtained funds to finance his lifestyle with another woman in Southampton – contacted via the same dating website – the court was told. Langley explained his absence from his first victim by saying his work had taken him to Syria geo-mapping war graves for the government.
The court heard that Langley was caught out when he approached KPMG expressing an interest in forming his own real estate company. He approached a real estate company and claimed he had £50 million to purchase Salterns Marina in Poole. A chance meeting during his pretence to purchase Sandbanks properties resulted in that person realising that Langley used to be known as Andrew Penfold and had been imprisoned previously for fraud offences.
The court was told that he submitted a forged document to the real estate company purporting to be from a director at KPMG confirming he had the funds available to buy the property. After the real estate company contacted KMPG, they confirmed the letter was false and a report was made to the police.
At about 4.50pm on 4 July 2016, Langley was arrested at Southampton Central train station. He had with him two iPhones, an iPad, £550 cash and was wearing a fake ‘expensive’ wristwatch.
Fraud Investigator Paul Sullivan, of the Economic Crime Unit at Dorset Police, said, “Zac Langley is a manipulative and very convincing fraudster who preys on his victims’ emotions for his own personal financial gain.
“He is a compelling liar who targeted his victims through online dating websites and tricked them into handing over thousands of pounds. His offending is both prolific and destructive. His victims have been left both emotionally and financially shattered by his cruel and selfish actions.
“While the majority of people use dating websites for legitimate purposes, there are some unscrupulous people out there, such as Langley, who are not who they say they are.”
Advice on how you can stay safe when using online dating can be found at www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/online-dating/