'Prolific and systemic' romance fraudster who tricked 10 women out of £100,000 jailed

David Checkley Credit: Met Police

A serial romance fraudster who tricked women out of approximately £100,000 has been jailed.

David Checkley, of Bains Drive, St Albans, has been jailed for 11 years after Metropolitan Police detectives linked his offending across the UK and identified a number of high value assets.

The 65-year-old used fabricated stories to trick victims into thinking he was a smart, knowledgeable and powerful man before he encouraged them to send him money.

He lied about being a fighter pilot, a Vietnam War veteran, a successful architect, having powerful friends and an ex-wife who was an American billionaire.

Checkley, who used the alias David Cohen, was found guilty of 19 counts of fraud and one count of theft at the Old Bailey on Wednesday following a cross-country investigation led by Met detectives.

Ten female victims, all aged 40-70, gave evidence during an eight-week trial.

Mercedes seized by Met Police officers Credit: Met Police

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.

“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.”

Mini linked by Checkley and seized by police Credit: Met Police

Police were made aware of Checkley in June 2021 after reports were made concerning his suspicious behaviour from victims.

Officers launched an investigation and he was linked to several fraud offences across the UK.

Within a week, detectives discovered two new possible victims, a number of potential addresses for him and various other assets.

It was also revealed he was on holiday in Ibiza at that time.

Police identified another potential victim based in Harrow while conducting financial enquiries and in July 2021, Checkley returned to the UK where he 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.

Two Harley Davidson motorbikes estimated to be worth around £40,000 Credit: Met Police

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.

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 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.

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