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Romance fraudster jailed for 38 months

Custody image of Sebastian Timmis
Sebastian Timmis

A serial fraudster who targeted a dozen women in romance fraud scams has been jailed again.

Sebastian Timmis, 32, stole more than £30,000 by convincing his victims to transfer him money, having won their trust through dating apps and websites.

He committed the offences between January and July 2022, while on prison licence for similar fraud offences he had been sentenced for the previous year.

Timmis, from Marksbury, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of fraud by false representation, with the women he defrauded living all over the country, including Bristol, Bath, Swindon, Nottingham, Warwickshire, Hertfordshire, Hampshire and Sussex.

PC Rory Everitt, the officer in the case, said: “Timmis used dating apps and websites to establish the trust of his victims before claiming to them he needed money urgently.

“He’d pressurise his victims into transferring money to him, promising he would pay them back. He would make up time-critical scenarios, including having his wallet stolen, to win sympathy and would then not give the money back.

“The cash was used to fund gambling.”

The tactics used by Timmis are common with romance fraud:  winning the victim’s trust before creating a fictional time-sensitive reason why they need money, valuables or gift cards to be bought for them.

Judge Paul Cook handed Timmis a prison sentence of three years and two months at Taunton Crown Court on Thursday 11 January. A 10-year serious crime prevention order – prohibiting Timmis from accessing dating platforms – was also granted.

HHJ Cook described Timmis as ‘cynical and manipulative’ who ’emotionally and serious betrayed’ his victims.

PC Everitt said: “These victims have shown great courage in reporting what happened to them.

“We commonly misspeak and say people ‘fall’ for scams and fraud but this is not the case. These women were manipulated by a prolific and selfish fraudster who used their kind-heartedness to make them feel sorry for him, and profit to the tune of almost £32,000.

“He has received a significant prison sentence and we welcome the court’s actions to impose an order that should help prevent him from being able to defraud anyone else by similar means in the future upon release.”

More information about how to spot the warning signs of romance fraud can be found on Action Fraud’s website.