A 23-year old con artist scammed a total of seven people including an older gay man and a mother with an autistic child was yesterday jailed for his offences.
Whilst living in the North Down area in late 2016, he set out on a deliberate spree, targeting his victims and deceiving them in various ways. His crimes resulted in a loss of £25,000 in total- £18,000 of which he scammed from one victim alone.
This victim was a gay man in his 50’s who was contacted by Harvey on a well known gay dating website. Over the course of two months, Harvey told the man a number of lies about his father being ill and needing medical treatment. He also told the man that he needed money to cover the cost of his mother’s funeral.
A Crown prosecutor branded these lies as “untrue” and “used to extract money.” Judge Smyth who presided over the case stated: “You deceived him in the most shocking way over a two-month period.”
These crimes came to light when one of his victims, a 20-year old woman he met on a train, told her family and later the police that she felt pressured by Michael Harvey.
The prosecutor stated: “He gained her confidence and persuaded her to take out five telephone contracts in her name. On each occasion, he convinced her they had taken out the wrong iPhone, sold it then took out a further contract in her name.”
His most recent victim was a single mother with dyslexia whose child has autism. He targeted the woman and persuaded her to take out an iPhone and iPad contract, saying the items were for a church he volunteered with. He also applied for two online loans in her name.
Harvey was arrested coming off a flight from Cuba and admitted to multiple charges of fraud by false representation.
Conan Rea, the barrister representing Harvey, stated that he had a long history of mental illness and has had issues with both gambling and alcohol.
Judge Smith sentenced Harvey to 10 months in jail and a subsequent 10 months on licence, stating that she had accepted that the root of his offending was his gambling addiction. She remarked that he had developed a taste for an “extravagant lifestyle” having been successful in his earlier crimes.
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