Barnstaple blackmailer jailed for terrorising woman out of her life savings

Callum Goss

Callum Goss - Credit: DC Police

A blackmailer has been jailed after he terrorised a dating site user into handing over her life savings.

Callum Goss met the young professional woman from Bideford on a dating app but then exploited her friendship by inventing sob stories to get her to lend him money.

She was saving up for a deposit on a house but was forced to hand over more and more cash when he refused to repay her and threatened to send thugs to her home.

She was so frightened that she borrowed money from her family to pay him off and ended up not only broke but in debt.

Goss was a gambler and cocaine user who was desperate for cash to pay off drug dealers, Exeter Crown Court was told.

He sent messages which he claimed to be from his brother and sister and which ordered the victim to transfer cash through internet banking by 9pm that night.

The swindle and blackmail started with him borrowing £40 a time but his demands became almost daily and he was extorting £150 a day by the time she went to the police two months later.

Most Read

She handed over a total of £7,333 after threats which included ‘I want it by 9 pm or our lads will see you tomorrow’ and ‘I’ve got your address’.  

The victim wrote an impact statement which said she was so frightened she did not want to go to work and she took different routes and changed the number plates on her car if she did.

She wrote: “I had a feeling of betrayal by a man I considered to be a friend. I felt manipulated and felt I had to send money to keep violent people away from my home.”

Goss, aged 25, of Bear Street, Barnstaple, admitted fraud and blackmail and was jailed for 17 months by Judge Timothy Rose.

He told him: “These were utter threats. This was a campaign of fraud that converted itself into blackmail. It was conducted over a sustained period of two months and you were remorseless.  

“It caused her immense harm and damage. It frightened her and forced her to change her lifestyle choices. She lost her entire life savings and is now in debt. You had no other thought than your own selfish ends.

“The threats may not have been of extreme violence but they were more insidious. The cumulative effect was to terrify her.”

Mr Joss Ticehurst, prosecuting, said Goss met the woman on a dating app in July 2020 and although they did not start a full relationship, they became friends.

He started out by inventing stories to get her to lend him £40 and asked for more by claiming to be in hospital and needing the money.

He then borrowed more and more by telling her he would only repay her if she did so. The threats started when she told him he had cleaned her out and there was no more money.

Mr Richard Crabb, defending, said Goss was himself being threatened by dealers over a cocaine debt. He hoped to repay the money by dealing in cannabis but this did not work out.

He gave up cocaine last November and now has a good job with a removals firm. He always intended to repay the money and hopes to do so from his wages.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter