Portsmouth Tinder con artist warned he faces jail for swindling almost £150,000 out of Dubai millionairess
A fraudster has been warned he faces jail after conning a millionairess he met on Tinder into handing him almost £150,000.
Richard Dexter promised victim Amrita Sebastian that he was on the verge of a ‘big windfall’ and ‘significant sums’ after telling her he had acquired the patents to valuable biopharmaceutical technology.
As part of his ‘house of cards’ of deceit, the 38-year-old told her major multi-nationals - including US medical firm 3M - were interested in signing a multi-million pound deal with him.
On the back of his lies, Miss Sebastian - a Middle East-based executive - handed over a series of payments totalling £141,000 believing they were investments, prosecutors say.
However, Dexter pocketed the cash for himself and came up with a series of increasingly bizarre excuses for why he couldn't pay her back.
A jury at Portsmouth Crown Court heard it was then that Miss Sebastian called the police.
When officers raided Dexter's Hampshire home they found a document which claimed he had more than £4m invested with the financial services company Hargreaves Lansdown.
But this was a ‘total fabrication’, the court was told, with the account actually belonging to a friend of his whose final balance was actually just 37p.
Dexter previously pleaded guilty to seven charges of fraud but had denied forging patent documents and perverting the course of justice.
Dexter claimed he had simply ‘redacted’ not ‘forged’ the document and claimed he no intention of using a fraudulent document in his possession to defraud anyone.
But jurors at Portsmouth Crown Court have now found him guilty of both counts after deliberating for three hours.
The father of two, dressed in a grey suit with a gold tie, looked down and stared blankly as the verdict was given.
Addressing Dexter, Judge Timothy Mousley QC said that jail was ‘inevitable’.
‘The offences to which you have pleaded guilty are sufficient to justify an immediate custodial sentence of some length and those that the jury have found you guilty of will add to the sentence."
Judge Mousley granted Dexter bail but he must remain within his house in Southsea from 6pm until 6am. He is not permitted to apply for international travel documents.
During the trial Robert Bryan, prosecuting, told the jury Miss Sebastian met Dexter on dating app Tinder in 2015. He claimed he was a ‘successful businessman’ selling biopharma software.
Dexter persuaded Miss Sebastian, who lives in Dubai but travels to the UK twice a year, that he needed capital to start production of a piece of scientific equipment.
At first she invested £40,000, then £68,000 two months later, having been assured that he could cover any losses she might make.
Mr Bryan said: ‘At the centre of his fraud were patents and a patent catalogue he claimed to be buying.
‘Thereafter having said he had acquired these patents he said that well-known companies such as Pall Corp and 3M were interested in the patents and license deals which would bring in significant sums.
‘What was required was upfront capital to begin production of a Bioreactor Paddle. She invested.
‘Over the ensuing months he said he needed further funds to pay others.
‘He told her that she wouldn't lost anything as he had more than enough to replace her investments.
‘Nevertheless worried that her initial investments were at stake and when he said he needed further funds to cover the balance of things such as lawyers' fees, she advanced him more funds.’
Miss Sebastian continued paying him to 'protect' the initial investments with the promise of a 'large windfall' ahead, the jury heard.
Mr Bryan continued: ‘Towards the end of 2016, he promised her that he would repay her full investment in January 2017 at the latest.
‘On that basis, she lent him the final £5,500 as he was in dire financial straits heading towards Christmas.
‘He promised that he would pay her £100,000 as interest.’
But Miss Sebastian 'of course' received nothing with Dexter giving the excuse that the bank had closed his account and had taken control of his home, the court heard.
After they agreed Dexter would repay her £141,500 by April 2017 which would settle the debt 'in full', he never replied and the money did not arrive, a jury heard.
Miss Sebastian then went to the police.
In April 2018, police went to Dexter’s then home in Waterlooville where they found a financial document from Hargreaves Lansdown in a bedside cabinet which was ‘only partly genuine’.
The jury was told the last real investment report found the account belonged to a friend of his and only had 37p in it before it was closed.
‘Why doctor an investment report belonging to another to show you have £4 million?’ Mr Bryan asked the jury. ‘His fraud pleas may well inform you.
‘Mr Dexter does not have, nor has he had an account with Hargreaves Lansdown let alone one containing over £4m.’
The court heard in December 2018, USB sticks were handed in to police by his former partner, Maisie Evans, which contained 'licensing agreements' purporting to relate to a patent.
The court heard the UK's Intellectual Property Office could not find anything to suggest the patent referred to in the agreement was 'genuine'.
And the court heard they appeared to have been created after he had been first arrested by police.
Dexter claimed Miss Evans created the documents to 'frame' him.
However, Mr Bryan told the jury: ‘Even if she created the documents, it is still him, not her, who attempted to pass off as genuine [the documents] that were created post-interview [with the police].
‘The evidence is quite clear, it is him who created the documents to try and wheedle himself out and is a clear attempt to pervert the course of justice.
‘He now accepts that he dishonestly defrauded Amirta Sebastian. But in the summer of 2018, he was still denying that fraud offence. These documents support the false denial.
‘These were put forward to support that count of denial. That denial now is key in his case of straw or house of cards because he now has pleaded guilty.’
Dexter pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud and not guilty to one count of possessing an article used in fraud and to one count of perverting the course of justice.
Over the course of the trial, Dexter claimed he had been forced to give a guilty plea to the seven counts.
He will be sentenced on December 23.