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Former prison officer cost victims thousands in Wimbledon and V-Festival con

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A former prison officer with a gambling addiction cheated internet buyers out of thousands of pounds by pretending to have Wimbledon and music festival tickets and gadgets for sale.

Conman Jamie Forsyth, from Penkridge, replied to adverts on the Gumtree website for goodies like tickets for Wimbledon, the V-Festival, Glastonbury and T in the Park, Stafford Crown Court heard.

He got buyers to transfer cash straight in to his bank account, but the tickets and goods never existed.

The victims were fobbed off with 'sob stories' from Forsyth about bereavement, illness and family problems and, except for £50, none of them got their money back.

Mr Oliver Woolhouse, prosecuting, said Forsyth swindled 19 Gumtree users out of a total of £4,570 - and it was not the first time he had done it.

Forsyth, aged 31, of Elmdon Close, Penkridge was jailed for 16 months after admitting 18 charges of fraud and asking for one more to be considered.

Magistrates had previously jailed him for 25 weeks for identical offences in September 2012, but he carried on conning within a couple of months of being released.

Recorder Mr David Bright told him: "You fell prey to a gambling habit and ran up significant debts. Your responsible employment in the prison service came to an end in May 2012 and you carried out quite a sophisticated and systematic fraud.

"You would respond to ads on Gumtree and seek to reassure purchasers you were genuine, all the time pressing them to transfer money in to your bank account. You would give sob stories about bereavement, illness or family problems. No items whatsoever were supplied."

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Mr Woolhouse said the current set of offences spanned the period before and after Forsyth was jailed by magistrates.

Apart from tickets for various big events, Forsyth claimed to have iPads, cameras and mobile phones for sale. One buyer was told a camera was being sold because Forsyth's brother had just died.

Some victims were buying birthday or Christmas presents for their loved ones. Most of them gave up trying to get their money back when they found out Forsyth had gone to jail.

Mr Chris Clark, defending, said the explanation for his client's offending was debt. "It was snowballing all the time. While he was always intending to get a job and pay it back, once he was released from prison, he fell back in to the same trap."

Mr Clark added that Forsyth suffered from a serious personality disorder and was now receiving medical treatment.

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