Tinder swindler conned woman out of £12.5K ‘using his toddler son as weapon’

A conman has been jailed after he spun a web of deceit to swindle a woman he met on the dating app Tinder out of £12,500.

Samuel Nankivell left his victim feeling betrayed and suicidal after he used a sob story about being separated from his son to dupe her into taking out a loan and giving him the money.

He claimed he would spend it on finding a new home so he could be with his child but instead, he used the cash to buy a motorcycle, Exeter Crown Court heard.

The deception was part of a series of confidence tricks in which he swindled others out of thousands of pounds by claiming that his mother had died and that he was an NHS key worker.

Nankivell was already subject to a suspended sentence for earlier frauds when he met the victim through Tinder in March.

He told he wanted a relationship and that she "ticked all his boxes" even though in reality he had a steady girlfriend in Plymouth.

Nankivell was living in a guest house in New North Road, Exeter, and told her that he needed a home of his own because his son was not allowed to see him there.

She was taken in completely by the sob story about his son and tried to take out loans of £25,000 with two different banks before the Natwest agreed to lend her half that amount.

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Nankivell went with her to the branch in Exeter but gave her the cold shoulder as soon as the cash was in his hand. He bought a Suzuki motorcycle the same day and spent another £1,289 on a new set of leathers.

He went on to have hundreds of pounds worth of work done on the Suzuki by engineers in Crediton and Stoke Canon and told more lies to get out of paying the bills.

He even persuaded one of the businesses to lend him a Honda bike by saying he was an NHS key worker and needed it for his job. He promptly tried to sell it to the other one.

When the victim asked for her money back, he invented a new set of stories, including claiming to have cancer.

His earlier convictions involved staying at guest houses in Exeter and Yelverton and running up large bills which he conned his way out of paying. He told one hotelier that his mother had just died.

Nankivell, 25, of Bernice Close, Plymouth, admitted fraud and asked for four other cases to be considered. He was jailed for two years and six months by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court, Plymouth Live reported.

The judge told him: "You set about a complete betrayal of her trust and embarked on a connection with her which you only pursued for the purpose of this fraud.

"You made a series of false explanations and representations to her. The moment you had your hands on the money, you turned your back on her. You called her names and effectively disregarded her.

"What you were doing was a complete wanton blizzard of dishonest behaviour without any regard for the victims."

The judge set a timetable under the Proceeds of Crime Act which will lead to the seizure of any of his assets that can be traced.

Kenny sobbed as she read out a victim statement that revealed how the fraud had affected her.

She said when they first met, he was a "nice-looking guy, charming, the type of person to interact with".

He told her he was a "good dad" but in reality "I could not have been more wrong".

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She said: "I cannot trust anyone anymore. I felt sorry for him but he was grooming me, saying what I wanted to hear. It was a cascade of lies. He said I was beautiful and ticked all the boxes and he could not wait to see me.

"I am heartbroken, He used his three-year-old son as a weapon and showed me videos and pictures saying his son could not see his daddy. He has no morals."

She said he had left her in financial turmoil and in a "real soul-wrenching nightmare".

Francesca Whebell, defending, said Nankivell had not targeted the victim and still intends to repay all the money by working as a groundworker after his release.

She said he learned to lie during an impoverished childhood in which he claimed to have more things than he had. He then got himself into debt through drug use.

He was not lying about having a son and he is heartbroken that he will be separated from the boy while in jail.

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