'Leeching' Sheffield fraudster who forced woman he met on dating site to take out TEN loans is jailed

A "leeching" Sheffield fraudster who forced a woman he met on a dating website to take out ten loans and sell her house has been jailed.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 04 September, 2017, 15:42
Fraudster Martin Johnson. (Photo: Derbyshire Police).

Scheming Martin Johnson was sent to prison for two years after a court heard how the woman ended up in serious debt and was forced to move back in with her parents after the pair met via dating website Plenty Of Fish.

A judge told Johnson he was “a scheming, manipulative and dishonest man” as he sent him to prison at Derby Crown Court.

The hearing was told how Johnson of Spa Lane, Woodhouse, struck up a relationship with the victim after meeting her online.

Within weeks, he had “bullied her” into taking out a £3,000 loan after telling her he was in a dire financial situation.

The court heard he then told her he was suicidal due to depression over his debts and forced her into taking out more loans - to the point where she had to put her house up for sale and move back in with her parents.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, she said she feels “humiliated, exposed and embarrassed” and that Johnson has “shown no remorse or sympathy and left her feeling trapped and bullied”.

Jailing the 29-year-old, Judge Robert Egbuna said: “She had the misfortune to meet you and, from that moment, you spun a web of deceit - bullying her into taking out 10 payday loans to prise money off her. You threatened her by accessing her laptop and telling her employer that she had divulged confidential information leading her to being suspended.

“You threatened and bullied her into taking out payday loans on your behalf, leaving her in debt and in significant financial difficulties. What you did was close to blackmail, you leeched off this woman.

“She was vulnerable and you are a scheming, manipulative and dishonest man.”

Jasmine Kumar, prosecuting, said the offending took place over a six-month period in late 2014 but the prosecution has only taken place this year.

She said Johnson and the victim met on Plenty of Fish and began a relationship after he lied to her and told her he was the manager of the clothing store River Island at Meadowhall.

Miss Kumar said: “He effectively got this lady to take out payday loans telling her at first that he needed the money because he was being evicted and would be made homeless.

“The second time he asked her to take out a loan, he sent her a text message telling her he was suicidal.

“He also accessed her laptop and told her that meant she had breached her confidentiality with her employer and told her he would tell them what she had done if she did not take out more money for him."

Miss Kumar said the victim was forced to move herself and her seven-year-old daughter back to her parents due to “spiralling debts” amassed from the loans. The matter was finally reported to the police and Johnson was arrested.

He pleaded guilty to one count of fraud in relation to the victim.

Joe Harvey, for Johnson, said his client suffered issues as a child which led him to be placed into care. He said: “His financial situation got out of hand and he did this out of desperation.”