Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Jail term for 'sugar daddy' conman

Fraudster Jonathan Price posed as a super-wealthy businessman

A heartless conman who fleeced more than £170,000 out of a string of women he met on a website for "sugar daddies" has been jailed for seven years.

Callous Jonathan Price, 41, posed as a super-wealthy businessman, telling his victims he was an ex-SAS man, a friend of the late, exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and that he had a home in Sandbanks, one of the most exclusive addresses in the country where football boss Harry Redknapp lives.

He turned their lives upside down and even married one victim, with whom he has had a child.

With "extraordinary callousness" the Walter Mitty figure pretended he was dying and invented a friend who would email progress reports to one victim to throw her off the scent, the prosecution said.

After convincing them he had millions in offshore accounts, he managed to borrow many thousands from his victims and their ageing parents by claiming he had cash flow problems and that he would repay them once the issues were resolved. But penniless career criminal Price would vanish after claiming to be terminally ill with a brain tumour and move in with another woman, who he had already been developing as a potential victim.

He met women online by using a "sugar daddies" site which aimed to match beautiful women with wealthy men, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Price targeted a chemist from County Durham to whom he proposed after charming her online. They planned a £96,000 wedding at Rockliffe Hall Hotel near Darlington. Instead they married at Harrogate Register Office in front of just four people. He defrauded her out of £72,000 and her parents out of a further £7,000. She had his baby last year. They have since divorced. Businesses lost around £50,000 from his offending.

Price, who had a bushy beard and wore dark glasses for the hearing, has not had contact with his parents, who live in Lincolnshire, since 2000. He was arrested in May last year after his "deeply suspicious" parents-in-law reported him to the police.

Peter Sabiston, defending, has told the court previously: "He is unsure because of the lies he has told, what is true and what is fantasy. He does seem to lead a life of fantasy." His barrister told the court Price realised he may never see his child again, and accepts he has "damaged some people very badly and caused a lot of hardship to people he was very close to". Mr Sabiston added: "He is a man who does have that Walter Mitty lifestyle and he has used other people's money to fund it."

Judge Howard Crowson said Price was selfish and had preyed on the vulnerability of victims who were seeking love and companionship. He said: "You have a record of fraud offences and theft which demonstrates you regard this as a way of life."