A charming fraudster has been jailed for over four years after conning a millionaire he met on Tinder out of £150,000.
Richard Dexter, 38, was handed four years and six months after fraudulently claiming he was a ‘successful businessman’ on the verge of the a ‘big windfall’ to swindle his lover.
Dexter duped Middle East-based executive Amrita Sebastian into sending him £141,500 in a series of payments saying they were for investments in biopharmaceutical technology
‘Well-educated and well-dressed’ Dexter claimed he had more than £4.2 million tied up in an investment account – but it was a ‘complete fiction’ and it was his friend’s account and had just 37p in.
The father of two reportedly spent Miss Sebastian’s money on ‘relatively high living’ – including paying £15,000 to a classic car company. He claimed international companies 3M and Pall Corp were interested in tech equipment he had the patents for and willing to sign on deals worth up to £12 million.
Pall and 3M have never had any contact with Dexter, the court heard. Dexter persuaded Miss Sebastian that he needed capital to start production of a piece of scientific equipment – a ‘Bioreactor Paddle’.
He told Miss Sebastian ‘she wouldn’t lose anything’ and that he would pay her £100,000 as interest.
Dexter, who sobbed during the two-hour and 15-minute hearing, told the court: ‘I haven’t been able to put into words what I would say to [Miss Sebastian] if she was here.
‘[I have not] had any courage to contact her or put it onto paper, but I’m very, very sorry to the point that I think about it every day, from the minute I wake up until I go to sleep.
‘I can’t justify myself for what I did.’
Dexter’s partner, 37-year-old Hayley Jones, wept and told the court her boyfriend of three and half years is a good father.
Sentencing Dexter, Judge Mousley QC said: ‘I’m left in no doubt that dishonesty is a feature of your character and it is profound.
‘You are someone who shows no hesitation in resorting to lies with an ease that is almost breathtaking.
‘When your truthfulness is challenged you reach for more lies to cover your tracks.’
The judge added: ‘There was absolutely no sign of you apologising to [Miss Sebastian] and there’s little sign of any remorse.
‘What you did affected her mental health and you have never spared a thought for her.’
A hearing to determine how money is paid back has been set for April 7.
A court heard Dexter, of Southsea in Portsmouth, Hants, met Indian Miss Sebastian on Tinder in 2015 and posed as a businessman selling biopharma tech.
At Portsmouth Crown Court, prosecutor Robert Bryan said: ‘He claimed he was a successful businessman selling biopharma technology and he said he was worth £6.8 million and was involved in Hollywood studios.
‘He alluded to his immense wealth and private jets, expensive cars, and said he had more by way of interest in his investments than a doctor’s salary.’
In one text to Miss Sebastian, Dexter said: ‘Hey! I’m 32, most of my friends did uni and have debts and worries and all earn £40,000 to £60,000. I bought a hot air balloon yesterday just because I could.’
Miss Sebastian, who travels to the UK twice a year from Dubai, met with Dexter in August of 2015.
Over the course of 15 months, she made a series of payments, some as large as £68,000.
By the end of 2016, when his finances were in ‘dire straits’, Dexter convinced her to send him the final £5,500.
Miss Sebastian described him as ‘desperate’ for money, adding: ‘Because he had so much of my money already I felt trapped to keep him onside and I felt the £5,500 was a small loan.’But she said she still perceived there was ‘no risk’.
Later, as Miss Sebastian pleaded to have her investments returned, Dexter lied that he had ‘closed a deal with 3M for £3.6 million’ and that Miss Sebastian was entitled to £1.8 million as he tried to keep her onside.
Miss Sebastian ‘of course’ received nothing back, with Dexter giving her ‘excuses’ and ‘leading her along’.
Dexter’s home was raided by police in April 2018 after Miss Sebastian reported the fraud.
One businessman Dexter had contact with, Roy Maunder, said he was ‘always trying to portray himself as a successful businessman’.
Mr. Maunder said: ‘His stories came across as fanciful… He was a liar but a likeable character, he was a charmer.’
Dexter’s grandmother told the court he would regularly ask her to transfer him £10 because his ‘card wasn’t working’.
John Lucas, defending, asked Judge Mousley QC for ‘mercy’ and not to jail Dexter as he is ‘likeable and a very good father’.
He claimed Miss Sebastian’s money went on ‘general everyday living’ and to cover debts.
Mr. Lucas added: ‘He was in debt, he had debts to close friends. He got himself into a pickle and was investing Bitcoin unsuccessfully.
‘This man will not offend again… He’s charming and dresses well… He’s a well-educated young man who made a big error of judgement.’