A 23-year-old man from Cleethorpes who conned nearly two thousand pounds out of unwitting victims who believed they were flirting with potential partners online has been sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison.
Paul Snelson pleaded guilty to eight counts of blackmail after he contacted men on different websites while posing as a woman.
During conversations held online, Snelson engaged in overtly sexual chat with the men and shared images of a sexual nature of women that he’d taken from the internet.
Once Snelson received similar images from the men, he immediately started to make demands for money and threatened to post the images and content of the conversations online if they didn’t pay up.
Today at Grimsby Crown Court, Judge Peter Kelson QC described this as 'an extremely serious case'. A further eight offences were taken into account.
Detective Constable Nichola Oakley from Humberside Police’s Major Crime team said: “Paul Snelson blackmailed these individuals who genuinely believed they were talking with and engaging in intimate chats with women.
“I want to thank these men, who are from all over the UK, for having the bravery to come forward and for bringing Snelson to our attention.
“I believe if they hadn’t have contacted the police, Paul Snelson would have carried on believing he could threaten and embarrass even more men into paying him to keep quiet.
“He said that he would post the images, contact details, and false stories about the victims on social media sites so that they could be seen by their friends and family.
“We tracked Paul Snelson through his own bank details which he had foolishly sent to the men to deposit cash into. We are investigating other transactions found on that account.
“I want to issue a warning to anyone who takes part in online dating or chats to be careful what details or images they send over the internet. The person that they’re talking to may not be all they seem.
“Anyone can become a victim of unscrupulous individuals like Paul Snelson who only sought to profit by deception, and eventually threats and aggression. His actions backfired on him which has now landed him in prison.
“I want to encourage anyone who may think they are a victim of blackmail to contact us.”