Man who conned women he met on internet dating sites sentenced to eight years in prison

09/10/2015

A man who took advantage of five women looking for love online, conning them out of a total of approximately £185,000 and abusing their trust in the process, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Matthew Bart Samuels, aged 50, from Broadway Grove, Worcester, was handed the sentence when he appeared at Worcester Crown Court today, having been found guilty of eight counts of fraud. He was also found not guilty of two counts of fraud. On one other count of fraud the jury was directed by the judge to find him not guilty.

Samuels had previously pleaded guilty to impersonating a barrister on December 8 2014.

He was sentenced today to eight years in prison in total for the fraud offences and three months in prison for impersonating a barrister, to run concurrently. An indefinite restraining order was put in place by the judge preventing Samuels from contacting any of his victims.

The offences were carried out between January 2011 and March 2015 and the victims include five women who he met through internet dating websites. One 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. In fact he pocketed the money and spent it on himself.

The sentence follows a nationwide investigation which was led by West Mercia Police, with support from other forces in areas where his victims lived.

Samuels met women over the internet, through dating websites. He would use different methods, including driving expensive cars, wining and dining them and persuading them he was a millionaire. Then, once he had gained their trust, he would steal from them.

On some occasions the 50-year-old would persuade women to set up car companies as the legal head, whilst he ran them. He would also use finance deals and steal from his victims, eventually leaving when the debt ran too high. In some instances, he would persuade women to invest money with him or help him out of a fictional financial crisis, promising to pay them back, which he did not. Instead, he would spend their money on expensive cars for his own use.

Despite the lifestyle he portrayed, the reality was very different. Expensive cars were leased for the sole purpose of tricking women.

Samuels managed simultaneous relationships, sometimes seeing three women in one day, and used his job as a car dealer to cover his absences from home from his then partner, who often worked away herself and did not know about his fraudulent activities.

Samuels would sometimes use the names Matthew Copeland and David Copeland and has also falsely stated that he was a barrister, solicitor, financial advisor, a volunteer who assisted offenders and a medical surgeon specialising in knee surgery.

DS Tim Powell, of Hereford CID, said: "This sentence is the culmination of a thorough and detailed investigation, led by West Mercia Police with the support of other forces from around the country.

"I would particularly like to pay tribute to the women who have been defrauded by Samuels, they have shown great courage in speaking out about their experiences in order to bring this man to justice.

"Whilst Samuels was buying expensive cars, his victims were facing crushing debt, whilst he was holidaying in the south of France or taking trips to Paris his other victims were being blacklisted. He lied and deflected all blame onto them during this investigation, taking no responsibility for their positions at all.

"During his interviews he tried to intimidate the officers; stating that he knew people "in high places". In the end Samuels has been shown to be nothing more than a thief who would employ any lie to live a lifestyle funded by other people's money.

"Once he had their money he was setting up his next target. Samuels saw these women as nothing more than a means to fund his lifestyle."

Following his conviction, the Economic Crime Unit of Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police will look to establish Samuels' available assets in order to provide some restitution, in the form of compensation, for the victims of his criminality utilising Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 legislation.

Ian Crooks, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Matthew Samuels would trawl through a number of dating websites and prey on women who had either recently come into some money or had a good credit history.

"He would then spin them a web of lies about his background and profession, and once he had won their trust and faith, he would then proceed to defraud them out of thousands of pounds which was later spent on keeping up his flamboyant fictitious lifestyle.

"Throughout this prosecution Samuels has shown no empathy or remorse towards any of his victims for his callous actions.

"The CPS will now look to recover the amounts stolen."