A loverat fraudster cheated dozens of vulnerable women he met on dating websites out of £500,000 by telling them he was a terminally ill Parkinson’s sufferer, a court heard today.
David Checkley, 53 – dubbed ‘The Man with the Golden Tongue’ – arranged blind dates on the internet before spinning his victims a web of elaborate lies to garner their affection.
The callous Walter Mitty’s catalogue of lies included claims he needed money for a life-saving operation to cure his Parkinson’s disease and that he had met ‘fellow sufferer’ Michael J Fox.
Checkley also posed as a US fighter pilot and told victims he had served in Vietnam – despite only being 18 when the war finished.
He also duped women into handing over money for his various business dealings as an architect and property developer, promising he would repay the cash.
Checkley even proposed marriage in a bid to get women – some of whom he forced to re-mortgage their homes to part with their money – to settle his debts.
Police say American-born Checkley managed to swindle more than 30 women out of at least £500,000 and splashed the cash on flash sportscars and expensive designer watches.
Don Tait, prosecuting at Bristol Crown Court today, said: ”It is the Crown’s case that this defendant was a consummate fraudster – a man with a golden tongue.
”Between 2003 and 2009 he conned a substantial amount of money out of a number of ladies who believed they were all the sole object of his affections.”
Checkley met women on dating websites before convincing them he was a successful businessmen with the chance to make high-stakes investments.
He would claim to have business dealings in oil projects and building works, duping his victims into forking over hundreds of thousands of pounds.
When they tried to get their money back Checkley would become hostile and threatening.
Among his victims was Linda Miller, who met Checkley on a blind date in February 2003, when she was ”captivated by his charm”, the court was told.
She handed over £10,000 after Checkley told her he had Parkinson’s and desperately needed the cash for a life-saving operation after having met ‘Back to the Future’ star Michael J Fox.
Linda took out a £10,000 loan to help him, the interest on which was more than £240-a-month.
He then repeatedly told her he would repay the money but failed to do so.
Linda was forced to re-mortgage her home and confronted Checkley when another of his victims got in touch with her.
He denied the claims and said he must have had a stalker.
The court also heard how Checkley would juggle more than one relationship at a time before saddling the women with debts.
He used the cash to satisfy his penchant for fast cars – including Mercedes – and expensive watches.
Checkley told the women he was a US fighter pilot, an architect and a property developer.
He also said he was gravely ill and told women his son had died in an attempt to get his hands on the cash.
He even claimed he was a Vietnam war veteran – despite only being 18 when it ended in 1975.
Checkley, who carried out his scam between 2003 and 2009, was arrested after one victim complained to Avon and Somerset police.
The subsequent investigation led to another victim in Bath, and soon more were discovered in London, southeast England, and the Midlands.
One of Checkley’s ‘marks’ was even traced to the United States.
He was arrested on November 25 last year in London by the Metropolitan police and officers claim he may have had as many as 30 victims, many of which were too frightened or embarrassed to come forward.
The conman has previously been jailed for five years for false imprisonment and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm for his part in the killing of Channel 4’s Big Breakfast presenter Mark Levy in 2000.
Checkley pleaded guilty to 19 offences of fraud at Bristol Magistrates Court yesterday and was jailed for six years and ten months.