A 22-year-old blackmailed a gay man into handing over his life savings by threatening to expose him to his family.
Shayne Robson conned his victim, identified as Mr K, out of £25,000 after the pair met on gay dating site Badoo, according to the Metro.
After the pair exchanged lewd photos, Robson told Mr K that he would publish them online if the 25-year-old didn’t keep paying him, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
Over the course of five months, his gay victim – who believed that Robson was also gay – gave him his life savings – worth £12,000 – as well as a £5,000 bank loan and another roughly £8,000 he borrowed.
Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court that Robson, who was in a heterosexual relationship at the time in late 2015, that the blackmail started not long into the pair’s conversations.
He said: “From relatively early in their online relationship the defendant asked for money from the complainant because he was having cash problems, had unpaid bills and made various requests for money.
“Mr K complied with it. Also they both exchanged images,” he added.
“Those images being naked, or in the case of the complainant indecent, compromising images sent by the complainant to the defendant.
“Over a period of time the defendant received a total of just over £25,000.”
The court heard how Robson promised to pay Mr K back, along with £50,000 in interest.
But the prosecutor said that over time, “it became apparent to the complainant he was quite simply never going to see his money again.
“This caused him to cut off all contact with the defendant, to block him on Facebook and other sites where they had been conversing.
“It was at this point the defendant then committed the blackmail.”
At first, Robson “reminded” his victim of the photographs he had sent him, the court was told.
But, the prosecutor added, “in the end he threatened to disclose the photographs to the complainant’s family, friends, effectively anyone on his social media network.”
Mr K told his family what had happened and reported Robson’s blackmail to the police.
In his victim statement, Mr K said: “He was clearly using me for money.”
Robson, a trans man who was living in Gateshead, pleaded guilty to blackmail.
He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements and £500 in costs.
Judge Stephen Earl told the court that blackmail was “one of the most vicious crimes in the calendar of criminal offences”.
He told Robson: “There was never realistically going to be a relationship out of this, from your point of view.
“You caused someone enormous harm, emotionally,” he added.
“He was in a raw emotional state of never knowing if tomorrow is the day, or the day after.”
Judge Earl said to Robson that he would have expected him to have “empathy” for Mr K, considering that he had endured struggles because of his experiences of gender dysphoria.
Robson claimed that he used the money to help his homeless friends.