The victims of a Portsmouth conman who used dating apps to target vulnerable women have spoken out about the ordeal that cost them more than £6,500.
Adam Boon, who lived in Allaway Avenue, Portsmouth, used dating apps to meet Cosham resident Gemma Wiltshire and Joanne Paget from Oxford, before manipulating them into giving him thousands of pounds.
The conman messaged Gemma on dating site Badoo shortly after Christmas in 2015, and he gained her confidence by saying he understood her struggles with mental health issues.
The 42-year-old said: ‘I was in a bad place with my mental health and he targeted that.
‘He said he worked with vulnerable children and he understood what I was going through.
‘He claimed he was going to support me with my mental health – I fell in love with the character he created.’
As the couple began to meet in person more frequently, Boon, aged 46, quickly began to ask to ‘borrow’ hundreds of pounds at a time, according to the mother-of-two.
She said: ‘He said he needed money because his job hadn’t paid him, he said he needed money to pay his rent.
‘Once he asked me for £700 to buy a watch from a friend so he could sell it on to make some money.’
By September 2016, Boon had racked up a ‘debt’ of £4,000 – but all the while he was seeing other women.
Mother-of-five Joanne Paget met Adam on dating site Plenty of Fish in February 2016 and over their seven-month relationship she would give him more than £2,500 – money saved to buy a new headstone for her son’s grave.
In 2007, 13-year old Jonathan Hobbs died of an epileptic seizure in their family home in Abingdon and Joanne hoped to replace his headstone with a dolphin-shaped sculpture in memory of a family holiday.
But instead the money went to Adam as a series of ‘loans’ as he visited Joanne in Oxford.
Joanne, 55, said: ‘We were happy at the start – he said he wanted to marry me.
‘But he began to borrow more and more money.
‘One time he said he needed to borrow £175 to visit me.’
Joanne was advised by friends and family to take the matter to the police, who contacted Gemma as she pursued a civil case to reclaim her money.
Adam had been confronted by the Portsmouth resident after he would not add her as a friend on social media and she messaged one of his Facebook friends – who revealed he was seeing other women.
‘So I wrote him a letter that showed how much he owed me. He just snatched it out of my hands and tore it up.’
When police told Joanne that they were in contact with another woman in a similar position, she ‘couldn’t believe it.’
She said: ‘I thought, what an evil man to do this to two people.’
The conman was sentenced to 30 months in prison after a unanimous jury found him guilty of three counts of fraud in August.
It has taken the women months to get over the ‘horrific’ trial, according to Gemma.
She said: ‘I was terrified of giving evidence – it was horrible.
‘I didn’t think he would be found guilty. He was so good at lying.’