Tinder fraud: Man used cage fighter Cody Garbrandt photo

L-R: Paul Davies and cage fighter Cody Garbrandt Image copyright South Wales Police/Getty
Image caption Paul Davies (left) called himself Aaron Edwards and used a photo of Cody Garbrandt (right) on his Tinder profile

A man who used images of a cage fighting champion to create a fake Tinder dating profile has been jailed for conning eight women out of more than £16,000.

Paul Davies, 30, of Hazlewood Road, Cwmafan, Neath Port Talbot, used images of champion UFC fighter Cody Garbrandt.

He claimed he was a manager for Audi who lived in a penthouse apartment.

He was jailed for 34 months for eight counts of fraud by false representation at Swansea Crown Court.

Prosecutor Helen Randall said under the pseudonym of Aaron Edwards, Davies built a rapport with the women before "spinning stories" and making repeated requests for money.

The court heard he used the money to fund his gambling addiction. He also borrowed £40,000 from his parents' retirement fund to pay for the habit.

One victim handed over £8,558 to Davies over a period of 12 months after he told her a cash machine had swallowed his card and he needed money to visit his grandfather who was ill in hospital.

Image caption Paul Davies was jailed for 34 months for eight counts of fraud by false representation at Swansea Crown Court

Davies then told the woman his grandfather had been transferred for specialist care in Birmingham and he needed a new passport to get a new bank card. She sent him money to get a new passport as well as money to pay his household bills on the condition it would be repaid. 

The court heard the victim only became aware she had been the victim of fraud when she showed a friend's nephew a photograph of the man she believed she had been speaking to, who told her it was in fact bantamweight UFC champion Cody Garbrandt and she had been a victim of catfishing.

She confronted the defendant who admitted he had lied and promised to give the money back. She only received £100 and subsequently alerted police.

In a victim impact statement read to the court she said Davies had "not only robbed her financially," but also robbed her of her "self-esteem, dignity and security".

She said two years later she still felt "panicked, angry, anxious and ashamed".

Police investigating her complaint identified seven other victims.

Another woman took out several payday loans and sent £6,300 to Davies after he told her he had lost his bank card.

In a victim impact statement she said she felt "upset and sick" and was in financial hardship as a result.

The other five women were tricked into sending Davies £1,070, £140, £100, £60, £28 and £20.

The court heard Davies was on licence for a previous offence of defrauding a woman of £5,553 when he committed the crimes.

His barrister Hywel Davies said he was "extremely embarrassed" about his behaviour, and the conduct began "following the loss of his young child and the ending of his relationship."

He said Davies was "willing and keen" to pay back those who he took money from.

Sentencing Davies, Judge Keith Thomas said he had set out to "deliberately abuse the trust of those women for financial gain."

He will serve at least 17 months in prison before being released on licence.

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