Conman jailed after duping customers out of more than £550,000

Achilleas Costa appeared at the Old Bailey accused of murdering a father and daughter in Wood Green

Dalglish has been jailed for more than five years - Credit: PA

An internet conman has been jailed for posing as senior Google executives while he duped customers out of more than £550,000.

Gavin Dalglish claimed to run a business that boosted companies’ rankings on Google searches but took the money and spent it on luxury travel, gambling, designer clothes and cocaine.

He went on work as a salesman for firms in Devon where he diverted the money into his own bank account without processing the transactions.

He worked for a short time for Archant, which publishes local papers in East Devon including the Sidmouth Herald and the Exmouth Journal,  where he embezzled cash which clients including charities, community groups and small business paid for advertising.

His employers became suspicious when he resigned abruptly but they printed the adverts which he had sold, incurring a loss of more than £13,000.

Dalglish’s biggest fraud was against a chartered surveyor who ran a string of estate agencies in Surrey and who lost more than £500,000.

He used 23 different names during the scam and claimed to be working for Google, sending fake e-mails in the names of the British and European chief executives. 

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The victim, now 77, has had to downsize his home and cash in pensions to meet the loss, which he says has blighted his retirement.

Dalglish, 38, of Brunswick Terrace, Teignmouth, admitted three counts of fraud, three of false accounting and one of concealing criminal property and was jailed for five years and four months by Recorder Mr Timothy Kenefick at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him that his offending was aggravated by having a criminal record for identical offending.

Alistair Haggerty, prosecuting, said: “Over eight years Dalglish stole a total of £584,596.88. It is no exaggeration to say he is a career conman who has dedicated a significant proportion of his adult life to deceiving and defrauding others.

“He left a false trail but he spent money on high end leisure and travel from withdrawals exceeding £360,000. As the money came in, he spent it on an extravagant lifestyle.”

He said his frauds started in 2011 after he was freed from jail and set up a company called Websearch UK in a friend’s name and contacted surveyor Robert Gascoigne-Pees while using the alias, David McDonald.

Over the next five years, he extracted more than £1,500 different payments, some for advertising or internet puffing services or as payments which were supposed to free up refunds.

He claimed Websearch had been taken over by Google and posed as senior executives of the company to add to his credibility. At one stage Mr Gascoigne-Pees went in person to Google’s London offices to try to check him out but received no reply to his inquiry.

Dalglish also swindled other customers by claiming to work for Infoserve and getting them to pay money into his account. By 2016, he was in Devon, where he funnelled cash intended to pay for newspaper adverts into his own account.

He went on to do exactly the same thing on a smaller scale while claiming to work for the SearchforLocal website and ended up working as a salesman for the Exeter based Thirsty Work, where he took orders worth more than £4,000 and pocketed the cash.

The firm honoured the agreements he made and ended up out of pocket.

William Parkhill, defending, said Dalglish had been in the grip of gambling and cocaine addictions when he committed the offences but has rid himself of these and proved he is capable of working honestly since 2019.

He accepts a jail sentence is inevitable and regrets his behaviour, he added.