Con-men create fake modelling agency to obtain intimate images of women to then sell on

Jason Maguire and Oliver Pendleton

Two con-men who claimed to be running a modelling agency to con women out of cash for intimate pictures have been jailed.

A number of women were duped by a fictitious businesswoman dubbed 'Gemma Wright', who supposedly ran a modelling agency called Shining Star.

It was in fact Oliver Pendleton, 28, of Clwyd Avenue, Abergele and Jason Maguire, 26 of Caradoc Road in Prestatyn.

Mold Crown Court heard that both men would pretend to be 'Gemma Wright' online after setting up the fake business in 2016.

Not only did they encourage their victims to send pictures directly, Maguire and Pendleton enlisted the help of hackers to take photos from the private Facebook accounts of their targets, the court heard.

The scam usually began with the front woman for the modelling agency contacting their victims on social media.

They would state the company paid cash for images.

The pair have been sentenced at Mold Crown Court.

One woman was persuaded to send a selection of face-only photos and got paid a small sum of money, Ms Proctor said.

The 'Gemma Wright' persona went on to tell the victim that she could earn "more substantial" cash for sexualised images and videos.

However, the woman failed to get more than a small sum of the hundreds of pounds she was promised, despite a number of assurances from 'Gemma'. It was only when PayPal transactions from 'Gemma' came through that also made reference to Pendleton that the woman became concerned.

A second victim was contacted over Facebook and deceived into sending over 60 photos on the promise of money that she never saw. Excuses about problems or delays with PayPal were made, the court heard.

When she hadn't been paid, and became suspicious of the agency, the woman contacted 'Gemma', who provided her with a link to a "genuine-looking" website.

Ms Proctor told the court that setting up the website showed the "sophisticated methods" the men were prepared to use to keep their con alive.

The modelling agency contacted a third victim who sent a number of images and an intimate video. She was also never paid any money.

Maguire had previously been given a sexual harm prevention order in November 2016 after creating indecent images of children.

This led to his internet usage being tracked, the court heard, but it became clear to the police in 2019 that Maguire was not complying with the terms of the order and an investigation exposed his offending.

The police stopped Maguire while he was driving in Rhyl. In light of the ongoing court order, an officer asked to see his phone where he had made searches for pornography and had been accessing content through the OnlyFans website.

Maguire was later arrested at his home where electronics were examined, leading to a number of discoveries being made.

Along with 63 indecent images of children, Maguire had used a "safe browser" which would ensure his activity wouldn't be recorded by the device.

The search went on to find he had been using Facebook under the 'Gemma Wright' persona and had also created two email addresses that were linked to the fake business.

The search also found he had visited a website known to host a hacking community where he had contacted two members of the site over Skype with a list of names and requests to hack them.

Once he obtained passwords, he snooped on the accounts of multiple women who had been contacted previously by 'Gemma' to collect pictures that were "never meant to be public", said Ms Proctor.

The court heard that, once victims began coming forward, Pendleton had gone to the police and claimed his Facebook account had been hacked.

Ms Proctor told the court that the prosecution believed this was an attempt to get ahead of what the police would eventually discover.

Maguire admitted his guilt at the first opportunity before Magistrates. However, Pendleton only confessed in full roughly a week before he was due to face trial, the court heard.

Pendleton admitted to fraud as well as having a computer with intent to secure access. Maguire faced the same charges alongside 11 breaches of his sexual harm prevention order and six charges of creating indecent images.

Defending Maguire, Duncan Bould said his client accepted what he did was wrong and deliberately went against his court order in many ways.

He added that the 26-year-old had never been into custody and asked that the judge consider how beneficial it would be to send him to prison where his issues would not be looked at by the probation service.

Defending Pendleton, Simon Kileen said it was the 28-year-olds first time before any court. He asked that the judge consider whether a suspended sentence could be agreed.

Judge Niclas Parry said that the crimes were a "sophisticated conspiracy" and warranted nothing short of jail time.

He locked Maguire up for two years and four months and Pendleton for two years.

He also imposed lifelong restraining orders that banned them from ever contacting their victims in the future.

He said: "These are not frauds about money, these are frauds about people and the humiliation of females. You humiliated these women and caused extreme distress.

"Not only did you trick these women, you sourced them yourselves by unlawfully securing access to their social media where you knew there would be sexual images.

"These offences were planned and there were numerous victims. There is no need for me to repeat this but the best summary is perhaps that their worlds have come crashing down and they had their mental health affected."