Bogus Thorne spy jailed after conning lonely women

Jonathan Hill
Jonathan Hill

A fraudster who pretended to be a James Bond-type character and used dating websites to con women out of cash has caused long-term damage to their confidence, a judge said.

Jonathan Hill, aged 43, used sites including Plenty Of Fish and to make contact with women, claiming he worked undercover for the secret service and asking one woman to sign ‘The Official Secrets Act’ before asking for money to pay his mortgage.

The father, from Corona Drive, Thorne, stole a total of £28,785 from four women, and has now been jailed for three years.

Judge Robert Moore said: “For two years you set out to find gullible females on the internet dating system.

“They needed love, you needed money, but pretended to give them love.

“It is clear you will have left these four ladies with long-lasting effects on their feelings of confidence and trust.

“Only an immediate and substantial custodial sentence can be justified.”

One of his victims remortgaged her house and resorted to payday loans firms to pay her bills after giving him more than £18,000.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Hill made contact with Debra Bates via the Freedating website in May 2013.

After cancelling several arranged dates they met in June, and he told her he worked undercover and would be away for long periods of time, said prosecutor Kevin Jones.

He told her she would have to sign The Official Secrets Act before asking her to give him £3,000 to help pay his mortgage.

She transferred £500 to him initially, but later made several more money transfers to him totalling £18,025.

In a victim impact statement read to the court the woman said: “He charmed me into his way of thinking. I was waiting for my boyfriend to come home.”

Mr Jones added: “This victim lost just over £18,000. She now struggles to let people into her life. She says this has affected the relationship with her own family.

“She remortgaged her house which has resulted in extra payments and an increased term.”

Another victim was a member of and after they made contact Hill conned her out of £880.

Mr Jones said: “As time moved on he alluded to being in the special services or undercover in the prison service.

“He said he worked undercover all over the country.

“In February 2013 he asked for money. She initially refused but she transferred £880.”

Another victim was a member of dating site Plenty Of Fish.

The court heard she was having a difficult time at work and Hill was being ‘helpful and understanding’ when they made contact in March 2013.

In August 2013 he asked for money and she eventually gave him £3,180.

Robert Sandford, mitigating, said Hill’s actions had ‘coincided with his redundancy and financial pressures’ and his partner of eight years was standing by him.

Hill admitted five counts of dishonestly making a false representation to make a gain.