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Serial ‘romance fraudster’ had potential victim in Harrow

A serial romance fraudster who duped a number of women out of a substantial amount of money has been jailed for 11 years after Met detectives linked his offending across the UK and identified a number of high value assets.

David Checkley, who defrauded approximately £100,000 from at least ten female victims, was jailed yesterday following a cross country investigation led by Met detectives.

Checkley used fabricated stories to trick victims into believing he was an intelligent, knowledgeable and powerful man, before encouraging them to send him money. His stories included him being a fighter pilot, a Vietnam War veteran, a successful architect, having powerful friends and an ex-wife who was an American billionaire; this was all a lie.

Checkley, 65, of Bains Drive, St Albans used the alias name of David Cohen. On Wednesday, 29 November at the Old Bailey he was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of 19 counts of fraud and one count of theft.

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

Detective Superintendent 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.

Serial 'romance fraudster' had potential victim in Harrow Harrow Online
Mercedes seized by officers. Image: Met Police

“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. It was also discovered he was on holiday in Ibiza at the time.

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.

Serial 'romance fraudster' had potential victim in Harrow Harrow Online
Two new Harley Davidson bikes. Image: Met Police

Police discovered a trail of financial deceit and luxury purchases during a search of an address linked to the fraudster. The findings included invoices for expensive jewellry, a brochure for a mansion in Hertfordshire, and a receipt for a £7,250 Rolex watch registered in a woman’s name.

In the garage, officers uncovered two new Harley Davidson motorbikes worth £40,000, purchased using Checkley’s account, along with a Mini and three Mercedes associated with him. Further investigations led the authorities to a property in Westminster, where another victim of Checkley’s five-year relationship was found unaware of his fraudulent activities. His room yielded bank statements revealing accounts into which he had coerced women to deposit money.

The total loss from fraud against ten female victims amounted to around £100,000.