Southsea Tinder swindler who boasted of having hot air balloon and private jet jailed for defrauding woman out of £140,000

A CON artist who boasted he had a hot air balloon and private jet has been jailed after duping a millionairess he met on Tinder into handing him almost £150,000.

By Steve Deeks
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th February 2022, 2:44 pm

Richard Dexter ‘assured’ victim Amrita Sebastian he had a ‘significant business’ before leaving her out of pocket to the tune of £141,500 - having a ‘profound impact’ on her.

The Southsea fraudster convinced the victim after claiming he had investments in Hollywood firms, owned a private jet, expensive cars and said he bought a hot air balloon ‘because I could’.

But appearing at Portsmouth Crown Court today, Dexter has now been jailed for four and a half years for his campaign of deceit.

Pictured: Richard Dexter. Pic Solent News & Photo Agency

Read More

Read More
Two Portsmouth men arrested after violent robbers steal £1,000 worth of jeweller...

Dressed in a grey suit, the 38-year-old fraudster was motionless as the sentence was handed down to him.

Addressing father-of-two Dexter, Judge Timothy Mousley QC said: ‘The impact on Ms Sebastian has been profound. What you did to her has affected her mental health.

‘It is quite clear you never spared a thought for her. At one point she needed a hospital operation which could not take place.

‘You knew about her health problems and one of the most revealing things about your character is that you continued to take money from her.’

He added: ‘I am left in no doubt that dishonesty is a feature of your character.

‘You show no hesitancy to resort to lies with an ease that is breathtaking.’

The court heard how the crook had spun a yarn of fantasies claiming he had acquired the patents to valuable biopharmaceutical technology.

Dexter, of Highland Terrace, convinced the victim 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, Ms Sebastian – a Middle East-based executive – handed over a series of payments totalling £141,500 believing they were investments.

But Dexter pocketed the cash for himself and came up with a series of increasingly bizarre excuses for why he couldn't pay her back.

When officers raided Dexter's 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 one count of possessing an article for use in fraud and perverting the course of justice.

Dexter claimed he had simply ‘redacted’ not ‘forged’ the document and claimed he had no intention of using a fraudulent document in his possession to defraud anyone.

But he was found guilty of both counts by jurors last November.

Robert Bryan, prosecuting, said Ms Sebastian met Dexter on dating app Tinder in 2015. He claimed he was a ‘successful businessman’ selling biopharma software.

Dexter persuaded Ms 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.

Miss Sebastian continued paying him to 'protect' the initial investments with the promise of a 'large windfall' ahead.

He also promised he would pay her £100,000 as interest when she became concerned about her money.

But it was all a sham.

In a dramatic turn of events in court, Dexter took to the stand to offer an apology.

He said: ‘I haven’t been able to put into words what I would say to her if she was here or have any courage to contact her or put anything down on paper.

‘I am very, very sorry to the point I think about it every day from the minute I wake up to when I go to sleep for the last seven years.

‘I can’t justify myself or what I did. I feel like that’s important and something I should do but I don’t know where to begin.’

During his evidence on the stand, Dexter revealed he had £200,000 worth of cryptocurrency Bitcoin which he would use to pay back his victim.

Asked by the judge what he had spent the money on, Dexter said: ‘It was seven years ago. I can’t be sure what it was going on.’

He also told the court he had paid back £35,000 to two friends he had borrowed money off.

Dexter’s nan Patricia Chambers also took the stand to tell the court of the impact his imprisonment would have on his two children who he shares custody of. ‘It would be devastating,’ she said.

She said the children ‘rely’ on on him and it would be ‘terrible’

John Lucas, defending, pushed for a suspended sentence. ‘I plead for mercy. I plead for the sake of his family,’ he said.

‘I do see good in him. It’s a promise he will not be back in court.

‘What he did is unforgivable but he is a man who can put something back into the community.’

But judge Mousley said there was ‘no significant mitigation advanced’ for Dexter before adding on the care of his children: ‘Of course it will have a significant effect but it does seem care is not unduly affected.’

He added there was ‘no sign of genuine remorse’ until the sentence hearing.

Dexter will serve half his sentence before he can be released.

A proceeds of crime hearing will take place on April 7.

Det Con Victoria Cobley, of Hampshire Constabulary’s said after the hearing: ‘Today, with full support of the victim – despite being based abroad - an offender has been brought to justice and handed a substantial custodial sentence.

‘This was a very complex investigation which highlighted the sophisticated, calculated and deceitful manner of Dexter’s actions in order to extract a substantial sum of money from the victim. This experience will have no doubt had an extraordinary impact on the victim from both a psychological and physical perspective – as well as the overall financial cost to the victim.

‘While today’s sentencing will not allow the victim to regain the precious personal time and money that she invested in Dexter and his web of lies and deceit, we do hope that this goes some way to show that we take robust action against those who are deemed responsible for committing this terribly invasive crimes.

‘In handing down a lengthy sentence, which reflects the nature and severity of his criminal activity, we hope that this will act as a future deterrent to those individuals looking to exploit vulnerable people who unfortunately fall victim to fraudulent investment schemes.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Subscribe here for unlimited access to all our coverage, including Pompey, for just 26p a day.