‘Wicked and mean’ conman is jailed

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A SERIAL fraudster who conned money out of two women he met over the internet is back behind bars.

Raymond McDonald had just been let out of prison but convinced Susan Greener and Kirsten Harland he was an ex-Army major who was temporarily down on his luck after splitting from his wife.

Newcastle Crown Court heard his claims were just part of a web of lies he spun to get money out of the unsuspecting victims.

Judge Esmond Faulks jailed the 37-year-old for four years and branded him an “inveterate confidence trickster”.

Prosecutor Christopher Knox told the court how McDonald swindled more than £4,000 from Ms Greener, a teaching assistant from Sunderland, and more than £6,000 from Ms Harland, from Durham.

Mr Knox said McDonald befriended Ms Greener, who he had vaguely known some years ago as a child, over Facebook and soon formed a relationship with her.

Mr Knox told the court: “He told her a series of lies based on the notion he was separated from his wife, who was a policewoman.

“He said there was short term financial difficulties but he was himself a prison officer. He said he was going to work for Customs and Excise.

“He said he had been a sergeant major in the Army. This was all complete lies.”

The court heard McDonald had once been in the Army, but was dishonhourably discharged after a court martial in 2000.

The court heard McDonald’s series of convincing tales prompted Ms Greener to loan him £1,100 so he could buy a car for work and she and her friends handed over hundreds more after he claimed to have a friend who could get X Box consoles, computers and other electrical equipment at cost price.

McDonald continued his “series of yarns” to get another £200 from Ms Greener which he claimed was for a survey on a £140,000 house he planned to buy.

Mr Knox said: “He gave her a series of stories about how he was going to repay her and how he had arrangements with his solicitor which would ensure this would happen.”

The court heard after the electrical goods failed to arrive and Ms Greener heard rumours about McDonald’s past the police were alerted.

He was arrested with £3,000 belonging to his second victim Ms Harland, who he had also met over the internet, in his pocket.

Mr Knox said: “Again he had spun her a series of stories like he was working as the manager of the border agency.

“He conned her in very much the same way.”

The court heard McDonald took cash from Ms Harland with the promise to get a cut price X-box for her child.

And he took £6,000 from her, claiming this meant she was a sleeping partner in his limousine hire business he was setting up.

The court heard even after he was exposed as a liar in relation to both women he continued to be dishonest.

Judge Esmond Faulks told McDonald: “They were wicked and mean offences.

“You chose two vulnerable ladies, both recently separated from their partners, and to each of them you spun a complete web of lies in order to swindle substantial sums of money from them.

“An aggravating feature is you were released on licence and within weeks you started committing these offences.

“Your record indicates you are an inveterate confidence trickster.”

McDonald, of Laburnum Crescent, Trimdon Station, County Durham, had admitted fraud charges.

Jamie Adams, defending, said McDonald’s guilty pleas meant the victims did not have to give evidence against him in court.