A man who defrauded his then-partner of £70,000 has been brought to justice following a Sussex Police investigation.

Andrew Camfield, 59, of Lansdowne Terrace, Eastbourne, was sentenced to a total of seven years imprisonment when he appeared at Hove Crown Court on Thursday, 25 May.

His victim, Louise, was first introduced to Camfield by a close friend at Christmas in 2018. An intense relationship began and by February the following year Camfield had started to ask Louise for financial assistance. He claimed to be due a large inheritance, but this never materialised. 

Camfield continued to defraud her, using false promises and manipulation to exploit her financially. When her own funds ran low, she was forced to borrow money from her family to satisfy his demands.

A report was made to Sussex Police by Louise’s son, who first raised concerns that his mother was being defrauded by Camfield. An extensive investigation ensued, led by Detective Constable Andy Mountford-Laker, culminating in Camfield being charged with fraud by false representation in June 2022. He pleaded guilty to the offence at trial on 27 March.

At sentencing, Her Honour Judge Kelly said: “This was a prolonged and sophisticated fraud – you engaged in a relationship, you deceived Louise through elaborate lies defrauding her out of a significant amount of money. You lied throughout the relationship making up elaborate lies stringing her along. This was a truly callous and calculated set of actions which breached her trust.”

Louise said: “I was so in love with Andrew I didn’t see any warning signs or red flags.

“With hindsight, if only I had confided in my close friends about the financial aspect of the relationship sooner, perhaps things would have been different.

“It’s not only the financial devastation, but the emotional heartache I’ve suffered and the ongoing lack of trust I now experience, alongside feelings of being judged for my perceived naivety.”

Bernadette Lawrie, Sussex Police’s Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer, and Operation Signature lead, said: “It is incredibly brave of Louise to come forward and share her experiences with others, as victims all too often feel ashamed and embarrassed, blaming themselves for the actions of these heartless and ruthless criminals.

“By opening up about the impact of the fraud it is hoped that others may identify with the situation and seek support or realise this may be happening to someone close to them.”

Louise is now receiving ongoing emotional support from Victim Support’s Vulnerable Fraud Caseworkers, paid for by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, to rebuild her confidence, relationships, and trust to move forward from the devastation she has suffered in the past few years. The Caseworkers also run a peer-to-peer support group specifically for romance fraud victims, providing a platform enabling them to share their experiences with others who have been victims of the same crime type. 

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Romance Fraud is an extremely cruel crime because it plays on someone’s vulnerabilities affecting them financially and emotionally. Often, the victim is lulled into a false sense of security and trust and is completely blindsided by the fraudster’s actions. It can even negatively impact their health.

“I am pleased to be able to offer support to victims of romance fraud living in Sussex. By specifically funding some Vulnerable Fraud Caseworkers, local residents who have fallen prey to these vile fraudsters, are able to come to terms with what they have experienced and begin to rebuild trust in others once more.”

If you or someone you know has been a victim of romance fraud, please report to police by calling 101.

For information on romance fraud and how to prevent it, see the Sussex Police website.

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