BBC Parole: Conman moans that he 'hated' spending other people's money

Serial conman who scammed women he seduced and befriended out of thousands laments that he ‘hated’ spending other people’s money – and did it because he has ‘low confidence’

  • David Coombs was jailed for 4 years in 2017 and his term was increased in 2020
  • The serial fraudster appeared on BBC Two documentary Parole this week
  • Read more: Parole hearing of prisoner who kicked a man to death in 1997 but now insists he is ‘not the same person I was 25 years ago’ is one of those revealed in new BBC documentary 

A serial conman who has 23 convictions after a lifetime of scamming women and men he befriended and seduced via dating websites has lamented he ‘hated’ the lifestyle of splashing other people’s money.

David Coombs, who was sentenced to four years in jail for multiple fraud offences in 2017 and had his sentence extended in 2020 after he absconded to Russia, appeared on BBC Two’s Parole this week in which his parole board hearing was filmed and broadcast.

The 56-year-old fraudster, who was nicknamed ‘Casanova Coombs’ at the height of his deception, claimed he didn’t enjoy his life of living off money he’d gained from scamming people as he sat down for an interview with parole officer Lucy Gampell (left), and forensic psychologist Noreen Shami.

As he made excuses for his repeat offending in the meeting held at Wormwood Scrubs prison, Coombs claimed he had ‘low confidence’ which compelled him to pursue a life of crime.

After hearing from the offender who was first convicted in 1982, his community offender manager and his victims, the parole board decided not to release Coombs, concluding he was capable of capable of ‘really very serious, abusive behaviour’. 

In the first episode of the documentary series, fraudster Coombs discussed the details of his offences against multiple victims with the parole board. 

Speaking about one of his victims; a woman he began a relationship with before taking £3396 from her and never paying it back, Coombs said: ‘I asked for some money. She said, ‘it’s fine’. No questions asked. I kind of… abused that.’

He went on to insist he had never threatened or been violent towards anyone in pursuit of cash. 

David Coombs, 56 (pictured) appeared in BBC Two documentary Parole in which he made his bid for early release following his conviction for several counts of fraud. During his hearing, he told the parole board he scammed women he seduced and befriended because he had ‘low confidence’ 

One of Coombs’s victims, Carol-Anne, revealed she met the conman when she was visiting her friend in hospital who was having her leg amputated, and Coombs was also visiting the friend. He defrauded her of £500 under the guise of a house deposit

Coombs (pictured after his arrest) was jailed in 2017 for four years after being convicted of multiple counts of fraud

Judgement: The Parole Board members, Lucy Gampell (left), Noreen Shami And Robert Mckeon (right) are featured in the BBC documentary. Lucy and Noreen are in charge of making the decision about Coombs

One of Coombs’s victims, Carol-Anne, revealed to the programme how she had been scammed by him after the pair became friends. As she was looking for somewhere new to live, Coombs said he knew of a property she could rent and asked her for money so he could put down a deposit for the house on her behalf. He never paid it back.

Carol-Anne told the programme: ‘I met David Coombs when my friend was in hospital. As a clinical hypnotherapist I was working with her because she was having her leg amputated and [David] came round and sat with her every day. To be friends with her.’

The mother, from Poole, added David told her his friend was a property developer in the exclusive Sandbanks area and was renting out his annexe. As he weaved a web of lies, Coombs convinced Carol-Anne the property would be a ‘fantastic place for the children’ – and she gave him £500 for the deposit.

‘He seemed, he came across as a kind man. A very kind, caring, confident, wanted to help… you know, genuine. He came across as a very genuine man,’ she said.

After revealing to the parole board that he spent every penny of the money Carol-Anne gave him, Ms Gampell asked him what it was about the lifestyle of a con artist that appealed to him.

Coombs replied: ‘I hate it.’

Ms Gampell challenged his answer and said: ‘Well you clearly didn’t hate it so, you know, you were doing it for a heck of a long time, to all these different women.’ 

Coombs said: ‘I’m not using an excuse, I was in a difficult position.’

He added: ‘It was a behaviour thing… low confidence in myself, like I’m not good enough for anyone.’

Later in the episode, it was revealed that Coombs, who was jailed for four years in 2017, was released on license the following year. In line with his probation, he was required to have regular meetings with his community offender manager Caroline Walsh.

She described how, despite being a regular and reliable attendee at first, Coombs began to grow ‘anxious’ at his meetings over time. When she checked his phone, she discovered messages he had exchanged with a woman named Olga, who lived in Russia. Within a few weeks, he had fled the country to Turkey, and eventually ended up in Russia, where he remained for two years.

Describing how he absconded, Coombs told Ms Gampell and Ms Shami how he took trains through eastern Europe, before meeting two men who smuggled him across the Russian border to reach Moscow, where Olga and her family were waiting for him.

However, according to Coombs’s version of events, the honeymoon period with Olga was short lived – and he soon discovered he had become the victim of her attempted scam. 

He claimed Olga had tried to coerce him into giving her $2,500, but he foiled her plot and confronted her, at which point he claims she turned.

‘She said: ‘I’m in my country. I control you when you’re here’,’ David claimed. ‘Olga turned the situation around like I used to be, she put it on me. 

‘So I realised what type of person I was and I thought: ‘I’m not that person anymore. I don’t want to be that person ever again’.’ When he returned to the UK, he was arrested and given an extended sentence.

At the end of the episode, which also features the story of a convicted murderer, Coombs receives a letter confirming he will not be eligible for release.

Explaining their decision, psychologist Noreen Shami said she reviewed the victim statements from Coombs’s court case which painted a different picture of the con artist.

She explained: ‘He was very coercive, very controlling, and there’s nothing to suggest that he’s worked on those personality traits, and that was what kind of swayed me not to release at this stage.’

Ms Gampell added: ‘Witness statements from the victims really affirmed that this was a dangerous man that is capable of really very serious, abusive behaviour.’

She added the danger he posed to potential new victims was ‘significantly more than minimal’.

Coombs said: ‘I feel that they have made the wrong decision because they’re not giving me a chance to prove myself. They are looking on my past more than my future and I think that’s wrong of them to do that.

‘They say a leopard can never change his spots – that’s not in all cases.’ 

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