Tinder predator who 'preyed on women looking for love' jailed

Christopher Harkins used the Tinder dating app to prey on women looking for love and companionship.

A man who used a dating app to prey on women before sexually assaulting and scamming them out of thousands has been jailed.

Christopher Harkins targeted women between 2013 and 2019 – using Facebook and Tinder – with victims across the country including Glasgow, London, Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, Edinburgh, Stirling, Paisley and West Lothian.

The 37-year-old “preyed on women looking for love and companionship” scamming them out of £214,000.

At the High Court in Kilmarnock on Wednesday, Harkins was sentenced to 12 years in prison and was added to the sex offenders register indefinitely.

He targeted single women on dating sites and worked to gain their trust by portraying himself as a successful businessman.

Christopher Harkins targeted women between 2013 and 2019 – using Facebook and TinderInstagram

He would then invent stories about why he needed short-term loan of cash. Some of his victims borrowed the money to help Harkins out – others lent him their personal savings.

“Once you had schieved your aim with each victim you moved on to the next, and you repeated the process, leaving a trail of emotional devastation and financial distress in your wake,” the judge told Harkins during sentencing.

Harkins falsely used some of his nine victims’ names to receive payday loans and made one of the women create an online betting account in her name.

The gambling addict used cash from her bank to place bets.

He convinced his victims that his bank account was frozen and that he required funds to pay clients and those working for him.

Harkins also pretended to book holidays and received money from some of the women towards the fictional trips.

The amounts Harkins took from the women ranged between £350 and £72,525.

He also raped one of his fraud victims while she was asleep.

Harkins, of Helensburgh, was jailed for 15 months last year after he defrauded a financial professional he met online out of £16,000.

He made his victim believe he had his own currency exchange business and would pay her back.

She paid for a luxury holiday to Greece that Harkins never actually booked, and also agreed to cover what she believed were his business debts.

The victim, from London, was left £16,700 out of pocket and has never seen any of it repaid.

Harkins pled guilty at the High Court in Paisley to the latest series of charges which included 11 separate frauds.

He went on trial on a number of other charges and was convicted of a single charge of rape and four sexual offences.

Harkins was also found guilty of assaulting one of the women to the danger of her life.

The charges span between January 2013 and November 2019.

Judge Alistair Watson previously said: “This was an appalling catalogue of financial, physical and occasional sexual abuse of your victims.

“You repeatedly portrayed yourself as a successful person when in fact you are not. You contacted young women of varying degrees of vulnerability and exploited those.

“You did this over a number of years moving from victim to victim ruining lives as you went along.

“The harm you caused to your victims in this cannot be overstated.”

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