Jailed: The conman who claimed to have links to Dubai royalty and then blackmailed woman he met on a dating website

Haider Akbar
Haider Akbar

A conman who claimed to be a descendant of Dubai royalty has been jailed for blackmailing a woman he met on a dating website.

Haider Akbar convinced his victim he was a private banker working for Coutts, had a luxury home in Knightsbrige and backed up his claims by wearing diamonds, flashy watches and driving an expensive BMW.

But, Newcastle Crown Court heard the convincing 23-year-old - who used the name Harry Matoom - was a fraudster from Middlesbrough who was actually on remand in Holme House jail when he told the woman he was working away in Russia.

When the woman, from the Sunderland area, discovered his true identity, Akbar launched a frightening blackmail campaign, demanding over £3,000 in cash for gifts he had previously given her.

He issued sinister threats to her safety, job, and family when she refused to immediately comply with his demands for money.

The woman's plight has had a devastating effect and left her "nervous, anxious and paranoid".

Akbar, of Heythrop Drive, Middlesbrough, who has convictions for dishonesty and driving offences, pleaded guilty to blackmail and has been jailed for 30 months.

The jail term will start after Akbar has completed a 17-month sentence he received in January for a £10,000 fraud against two business partners he duped in a luxury car company scam and an assault against another woman.

Judge Deborah Sherwin told him today: "You were deceitful with her from the outset as to your identification.

"When it transpired you were in prison, she reached the decision she did not want any more to do with you and told you this.

"You were aggressive to her in telephone calls, text messages and emails.

"You said things you could do to her, which she took very seriously and was very concerned about as a result of these messages.

"The messages were repeated over a period of time, threats to her, her job and her family.

"This has had a devastating effect on her.

"She describes going from a happy and bubbly person to nervous, anxious and paranoid, suffering from panic attacks.

"The offence of blackmail is a dirty and ugly crime."

Prosecutor Barry Robson told the court Akbar met his victim on the internet in around February last year and they met in person for a date in Durham two weeks later, where he turned up with flowers.

Mr Robson said: "He told the victim he was a private banker, working for Coutts, lived in Knightsbridge and had family links to the Dubai ruling family.

"There was flowers and chocolates bought by the defendant.

"On one occasion he bought her a dress and handbag when she was going to a wedding. None of the gifts were requested by her.

"She describes him as flashy, wearing a gold watch, diamonds, driving a BMW.

"He appeared to have plenty of cash."

The court heard it was April last year Akbar told the woman he had to work away in Russia for "family reasons".

Mr Robson said it was after a few weeks the woman found out he was not on Russia but serving time on remand in jail.

When the woman told Akbar their relationship was over, his communications took a "sinister turn" and he ordered to pay a "bill" for the gifts he had given her.

Mr Robson said: "He indicated there would be problems for her and her family if she continued to deny the bill had to be paid."

The court heard the victim received texts, emails and repeated phone calls at work, with the sinister tone and threats that left her terrified.

Christopher Morrison, defending, said Akbar is determined to complete his education with a degree when he is released.

Mr Morrison added: "He is sorry.

"The offence itself is ugly, there is no getting away from that."

Mr Morrison said Akbar took no steps to carry out any of the threats and wants to "walk the straight and narrow" when he gets out of jail.