A FORMER soldier tricked women out of thousands of pounds after befriending them over the internet.
Raymond James McDonald made marriage proposals to two women and persuaded others to pay for holidays, which were never booked, Durham Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Joanne Kidd said McDonald used the dating website Plenty of Fish and a user name of Please Be Normal 1973.
“He told the women his real name was Mark Swift,” Ms Kidd told the court.
“Two of the victims thought they were to be married, and one gave him £2,000 for the wedding reception.
“On the eve of a holiday to Cyprus, paid for by another victim, he said he had to cancel because his daughter was seriously ill.
“He explained many absences and no-shows to victims with a concocted story about his daughter being treated for leukaemia at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.”
The court heard McDonald was caught after one of his victims contacted another.
McDonald, 40, formerly of Blackhills Terrace, Horden, admitted four charges of fraud by false representation between July and November, last year.
He has 44 previous convictions, many for similar offences.
Jane Waugh, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr McDonald had not long been released from a four-year sentence for conning other women.”
Judge Robert Adams jailed McDonald for two years.
Judge Adams ordered £320 cash seized from McDonald should go to a victim who lost more than £5,000 because of him.