A former academic high achiever who conned 10 people into sending over £2,500 into his bank accounts - opened under five different pseudonyms - has been sentenced.
Matthew Corry yesterday pleaded guilty at Londonderry Crown Court to 10 courts of fraud by false representation.
The 31-year-old, who is originally from Church Brae in Strabane but whose bail address is at Castle Hill in Dungannon, committed the offences by taking payments over the internet for goods which he never sent to his 10 victims, between September 2017 and July 2018.
Corry, who had previous convictions for committing similar offences in England and in Northern Ireland, advertised cameras, soundbars and speakers on Gumtree.
The items did not exist and the people who ordered and paid for the non-existent items are all currently out of pocket.
A barrister for the Public Prosecution Service told Judge Philip Babington that Corry was caught when officers from a government department known as Action Fraud - set up to detect cyber crime and internet fraud - told police that they had received complaints from the victims.
"The injured parties sent or transferred money into his bank accounts but they did not received the items they had intended to purchase. The defendant was identified and... the police went to his home at Church Brae in Strabane on November 14, 2018," the barrister said.
The prosecutor said initially Corry denied the offences before he eventually admitted his guilt.
"He said he had worked with someone he had met in prison in England and that he knew the goods were dodgy or possibly stolen," the barrister added.
Defence barrister Stephen Mooney said after leaving grammar school with 11 GCSEs and three A-levels, Corry went to Manchester University to do a degree in engineering.
Instead of completing his degree, however, he developed drugs and gambling issues. In relation to previous convictions in Leicester three years ago, Mr Mooney said Corry "was the fence for a much larger criminal enterprise rather than being the brain behind it".
The barrister said Corry had already spent three-and-a-half months in custody for the current offences and his family had brought £1,600 in cash to court with them by way of compensation for the victims.
Judge Babington described Corry's offending as "mean and beyond contempt" and added: "Hopefully these 10 people will learn not to believe everything they see on the internet".
Judge Babington then imposed an Enhanced Combination Order under which Corry will be on licence for three years and will have to complete 60 hours of community service.
The district judge also made a compensation order of £2,500 to be shared between Corry's 10 victims.
He told Corry the compensation had to be paid within seven days.