Serial conman James Bennett named as one of Scotland Yard's most wanted fradusters

Justin davenport
Most wanted: James Bennett has been jailed for six years in absentia

A serial conman convicted of a string of online rental scams has been named as one of Scotland Yard’s most wanted fraudsters.

James Bennett, 32, was jailed for six years in absentia after he failed to attend a hearing which heard how he duped 17 victims out of £8,000.

Today, detectives renewed appeals to find the 6ft 7in fraudster, who is suspected of committing dozens more offences involving the loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Police said Bennett had shut down all his online profiles and was thought to be moving from property to property across London, using false names to evade detection.

He was jailed for 17 counts of fraud at Inner London crown court last month after the case was heard in his absence.

The court heard how victims who replied to his online advert for a room for rent were tricked into handing over hundreds of pounds each as a deposit. When they arrived to move in, they found that there was no room available and that Bennett had vanished with the money.

Detective Sergeant Adam Clifton said the conman had also engaged in selling fake iPhones and in insurance scams. He said: “He makes his living as a fraudster — we have not been able to identify that he has ever had any employment apart from a Saturday job.

“Think of pretty much any form of dishonesty and he has engaged in it. He is undoubtedly one of the Met’s most wanted fraudsters — he is thumbing his nose at the justice system.”

Det Sgt Clifton described him as having a “rugby boy” persona and a “slightly posh” accent. He uses 20 to 30 phone numbers and a similar number of email accounts.

Detectives believe Bennett has been drinking at pubs in Clapham and say his height makes him highly distinctive. He also has connections in the Winchester, Plymouth and Bedford areas.

Anyone with information should contact Det Sgt Clifton on 07747 765719 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.