A Lincoln fraudster addicted to gambling, who scammed 85 victims by selling them non-existent tickets to events worth up to £9,000, has been convicted but spared jail.
Jesse Wilkinson gained the trust of his victims during online chats over Facebook, which began with him commiserating with them when they missed out on tickets for in-demand events.
Jeremy Janes, prosecuting, said Wilkinson needed the money to fund his gambling habit which had spiralled out of control as he sought a big win to recoup his losses.
He told the court that over a period of nearly two years Wilkinson scammed a total of 85 victims before police caught up with him.
Mr Janes said: “He advertised almost exclusively on Facebook. He would share the frustration of those who had not been able to get tickets and then indicated he could be a source of tickets for them using a variety of explanations and excuses as to how he obtained them.
“He gained the trust of individuals by suggesting there were loads of scams out there and initially would only ask for some of the money. This went on from the summer of 2018 to March 2020. Each of the victims is disgruntled to say the least.”
A police inquiry began after one victim made a complaint and when Wilkinson was spoken to he made a full confession.
“All of this was to fund the defendant’s gambling addiction, which had spiralled out of control. He thought that one more bet would recoup all of his losses and ultimately would recoup the amounts that the victims were out of pocket.”
Wilkinson, 24, of Elizabeth Avenue, North Hykeham admitted five charges of fraud and asked for a further 78 similar offences to be taken into consideration. The total amount involved was £9,000.
Stephen Taylor, in mitigation, said Wilkinson made a full confession and has shown remorse for what he did.
He told the court that Wilkinson began gambling in arcades as a teenager and then started betting on football. Subsequently a visit to a casino increased his appetite for gambling.
“He took out a number of payday loans and things spiralled out of control.
“It has to be said there was a real sophistication about what he did. He was effectively creating fake tickets and, in some instances, showed the images of these tickets online.”
Mr Taylor said Wilkinson is in full-time work and has sought help for his gambling addiction. Wilkinson, he said, is hoping to go to university to study business and IT.
Wilkinson was given a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years with a three-month night-time curfew which is to be electronically monitored. He was also ordered to pay £4,150 in compensation to be shared amongst his victims who will each receive £50.