David Coombs, aged 52 of no fixed abode pleaded guilty at Southampton Crown Court on Tuesday, January 17 to nine fraud offences after targeting people who he met on dating websites and in hospitals across the south.
Today (Wednesday, February 15) he was sentenced to 4 years in prison.
Coombs met many of his victims online via dating websites and occasionally in medical facilities. He would strike up relationships with them before telling them that his wallet had been stolen or his card mistakenly blocked by his bank and asked to either borrow money or pay for anything from dinner to hotel rooms and everyday living expenses.
He would then spin an intricate web of lies to gain the trust of his victims so they felt continually obliged to help him.
He claimed to own numerous properties and said he was employed by an interior design company and claimed to have multiple off shore bank accounts.
He used this story to lull his victims into a false sense of security as they believed he had the means to pay them back.
Coombs came to the attention of police after one woman he was having a relationship with ended contact with him. He proceeded to harass her by constantly calling, texting and emailing her at which point, fearing for her safety, she contacted police to report Coombs for harassment.
Hampshire Constabulary identified a network of fraud offences thereafter.
Coombs targeted men and women in Hampshire and Dorset between April 2015 and November 2015 with his victims being aged between 49 and 83-years-old.
PC Hair of the Western Investigation Team said: “David Coombs has spent years spinning a web of lies purporting to be a wealthy business man with multiple properties, expensive cars and off shore bank accounts. His persistent offending has had an immeasurable effect on the lives of his victims, not just financially but also psychologically.
“Coombs has spent the last 22 months avoiding police and attempting to evade prosecution. Today’s result shows Hampshire Constabulary will always continue to pursue complex matters regardless of anticipated difficulties or longevity.
“I would like to thank the victims involved in this investigation, not just for having the courage to come forward, but also for understanding the complexities of the investigation and to have maintained confidence in us throughout what has been a long and protracted case.
“I would also like to thank the many witnesses involved for the time they have given. Without the support of the public it is not possible to bring prolific offenders such as Mr Coombs to justice.”