A WORCESTER man who conned women he met on internet dating sites has been ordered to pay more than £179,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Matthew Bart Samuels, of Broadway Grove, appeared at Worcester Crown Court on Monday (February 29) at a confiscation hearing where he was ordered to pay a total of £105,040 compensation to his victims within three months or he will face a two year prison sentence.
Between January 2011 and March 2015, the 51-year-old had amassed £179,152.23 from gaining the trust of women he had met online in order to steal from them. He would use different methods, including driving expensive cars, wining and dining them and persuading them he was a millionaire.
He had taken advantage of women looking for love online, conning them, and in one case one of their relatives, out of a total of approximately £185,000. A further fraud offence related to the mother of a woman Samuels met online, who he defrauded by a total of £110,000 after advising her that he could invest her money for greater return.
On some occasions, Samuels had persuaded women to set up car companies as the legal head, whilst he ran them and would also use finance deals to steal from his victims, eventually leaving when the debt ran too high.
Sometimes using the names Matthew Copeland and David Copeland, Samuels falsely stated that he was a solicitor, financial advisor, a medical surgeon and even impersonated a barrister, to which he pleaded guilty to on December 8, 2014.
In October 2015, he was sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty of eight counts of fraud and three months in prison for impersonating a barrister, to run concurrently. An indefinite restraining order was also put in place preventing Samuels from contacting any of his victims.
DI Mark Glazzard said: “The people who were heartlessly defrauded by Samuels showed great courage by speaking out about their experiences in order to bring him to justice.
“The effect of his crimes was not just financial, there was also a significant emotional impact for his victims. Samuels did not just take their money, he also callously abused the trust and confidence they had placed in him.
“I hope that this week’s confiscation order provides some comfort for his victims and goes some way to compensating them for the financial and emotional hardship Samuels caused.
“It should also send out a clear message to all criminals that crime does not pay.”
If at any point in the future Samuels is deemed to have further assets, he will be taken back to court to recover further sums until the confiscation order has been settled in full.
Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police launched a campaign to raise awareness of internet-related romance fraud, as part of the alliance’s #Be Cyber Smart campaign. More information is available at www.westmercia.police.uk/becybersmart
If you think you have been a victim of fraud report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 20 40. Further information about romance fraud and staying safe online is available at www.getsafeonline.org and www.cyberstreetwise.com