Conman befriended men on dating apps then blackmailed them

Sam Shepherd was jailed for six years at Bristol Crown Court. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

A blackmail victim who was asked to hand over thousands of pounds by a man he met on a dating website says the ordeal left him "paralysed" as the life he loved has "fallen apart".

Sam Shepherd has been jailed for six years after threatening to release "intimate" and "fabricated" details about two men he met on a dating website to their friends and family.

The 28-year-old, of Kent Street in Portsmouth, arranged to meet his victims - who were from South Gloucestershire and Bristol - and demanded they hand over large sums of money.

In an impact statement read to the court, one of the victims said: “It’s been three months since the blackmail began, but it has felt like an incredibly long, tortuous and traumatic time.

It truly has felt like my life has stood still and that I have been paralysed as the life I loved has fallen apart around me.

Victim's impact statement

“I have gone from feeling confident, capable, in control, optimistic and more to now feeling ashamed, lost, overwhelmed with my loss of life, depressed, anxious, and paranoid. His arrest did alleviate some of those feelings, however I still fear for the future.”

Police believe there may be more victims of blackmail who are yet to come forward.

Detective Sergeant Sharon Maggs, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “Sam Shepherd inflicted mental abuse on his victims who were worried he would reveal intimate or fabricated details about them to their family and friends. It was a cruel and manipulative crime designed to extort money and put victims in fear of reporting.

“We believe this type of offending is likely to be wider than the two victims we know about, so we’d ask for anyone who recognises this man, or this method of offending, to contact us on 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5220229864.

“We’re here to help and support you – so please have the confidence to report any incidents to us.”

Shepherd admitted two charges of blackmail relating to victims in South Gloucestershire and Bristol. He was jailed for six years.

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