By Tara Rippin • 25 September 2020 • 12:49
A serial ‘romance fraudster’ has been jailed for nine offences after conning his victims out of more than €440,000.
Vimal Popat, 41, of Salt Hill Drive, Slough, appeared at Harrow Crown Court on yesterday (Thursday, 24 September) where, having previously pleaded guilty, he was sentenced to four years and four months’ imprisonment for each count of fraud by false representation.
The sentences will run concurrently.
Detective Constable Chris Collins, said in a statement: “This was a selfish and callous crime that parted trusting decent people from their savings.
“So often victims of this type of offence don’t come forward, embarrassed by their own naivety, but fraudsters such as Popat work hard on their back story and are incredibly convincing in the telling of their tales.
“I commend the victims in this case for coming forward. Their actions have put a stop to Popat’s crimes and have no doubt spared others from falling victim to his schemes. I hope that the sentence handed down today brings them some satisfaction.”
Popat’s victims were mainly – but not exclusively – women, most of whom he had met using online dating sites such as Bumble.
After striking up an online friendship, Popat would typically go on to form romantic relationships with his victims in person. After wooing them over a period of months and gaining their trust, he would persuade them to invest their money in a non-existent business.
In all cases, he duped his victims into believing he was a successful Forex trader and they were investing in his business with the promise of healthy profits gained through the purchase and sale of currencies.
In reality, when the victim’s money was transferred into one of Popat’s bank accounts, he would use it to finance his lifestyle or gamble it away in casinos.
When chasing their money, Popat would string along his romantic victims for months using a number of excuses for being unavailable to see them, such as being in a car accident, being hospitalised, being robbed and even attending a funeral.
He also created false banking documents to persuade victims that his accounts had a healthy balance and that their money was being invested.
His offending, which began in 2013, stopped during 2015-2016, but escalated to an extreme during 2019 where he duped four victims in a single year.
In addition to the romance based offences, Popat also targeted relatives, a former work colleague and a former neighbour, impressing them with his fictitious business acumen and enticing them to part with cash in exchange for empty promises of financial profit.
Six of the total eight victims were female, four of whom were convinced by Popat that they were in a romantic relationship.
He took more than £300,000 from a relative after tricking him into believing he was a successful currency trader at a family wedding and police believe that there may be more victims who have not yet come forward.
His offences are believed to have totalled £440,824.50.
Popat was arrested by officers from the Economic Crime Unit based at Hendon on March 5.
He was charged the following day and remanded in custody to appear at Harrow Crown Court on August 10, where he entered a guilty plea and was further remanded for sentencing.
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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