Romance fraudster swindled £100,000 by tricking women he was fighter pilot and Vietnam veteran

Other personas David Checkley falsely portrayed included being a successful architect, having powerful friends and an ex-wife who was an American billionaire.
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A serial romance fraudster who defrauded £100,000 from at least ten female victims has been jailed.

David Checkley, 65 of Bains Drive, St Albans used fabricated stories including being a fighter pilot and a Vietnam War veteran to trick victims before encouraging them to send him money.

Other personas he falsely portrayed included being a successful architect, having powerful friends and an ex-wife who was an American billionaire.

Checkley, who used the alias name of David Cohen was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment at the Old Bailey on Wednesday November 29 after being found guilty of 19 counts of fraud and one count of theft.

Ten female victims gave evidence during an eight-week trial.

David Checkley defrauded £100,000 from his victims and bought expensive purchases including a Mercedes carDavid Checkley defrauded £100,000 from his victims and bought expensive purchases including a Mercedes car
David Checkley defrauded £100,000 from his victims and bought expensive purchases including a Mercedes car

Det Sup John Roch, from the Met’s Economic Crime Team, said: “Our determination remains resolute in ensuring that offenders like Checkley are held accountable and brought to justice.

“There is no doubt that Checkley is a prolific and systematic fraudster who spun a web of lies to his victims. He abused the honest intentions of his victims in the most callous way. He is a fantasist who claimed to lead an enviable lifestyle but in reality, he is a criminal who deceived innocent people for his own financial gain.

“Most importantly, I want to commend the women who came forward to report Checkley. They have shown incredible strength for following their instincts when something felt amiss and then reporting him to police. Romance fraud is a crime that has both an emotional and financial impact on victims and I hope that today’s sentencing can begin to give some closure to the women in this case.”

Checkley came to the attention of Met detectives in June 2021 following numerous reports of suspicious behaviour from victims – all women aged between 40 to 70 years old. Detectives began an investigation and discovered he was linked to fraud offences across the country, targeting women of the same age.

Within a week of the investigation, detectives identified two potential new victims, a number of possible further addresses for Checkley, and various other assets

While conducting financial enquiries, detectives identified another potential victim based in Harrow. In July 2021, Checkley returned to the UK and was arrested as he returned to this address.

The occupant of the house was spoken to and told officers that Checkley had been in a relationship with her for around five years and he stayed at her house approximately three days a week. She was not aware of Checkley’s actions.

During a search of this address, officers discovered invoices relating to the purchase of expensive jewellery, a brochure for a large mansion in Hertfordshire and a receipt in a woman’s name for a £7,250 Rolex watch purchased in 2018. 

Two new Harley Davidson bikes.discovered by policeTwo new Harley Davidson bikes.discovered by police
Two new Harley Davidson bikes.discovered by police

A search of the garage uncovered two new Harley Davidson motorbikes worth approximately £40,000 which had been purchased using Checkley’s account. A Mini, and three Mercedes all linked to Checkley were also found parked near to the address.

Officers were also led to a property in Westminster, where another victim was discovered who Checkley had been in a relationship with for five years. Similar to other victims, she was not aware of his actions. A search of his room unearthed bank statements with accounts he had asked women to pay money into.

The total loss of the fraud against ten female victims was approximately £100,000.