Mark Bishop’s job for the last ten years
was conning other gay men.
Con artists can be straight or gay, but imagine when homosexuality was illegal and victims had no legal recourse to expose a con man like Mr. Bishop.
He said he was an architect who would soon inherit money but right now he didn’t have any funds available. He looked and acted the part, and I’m sure he wasn’t going after poor men. He met his prospects by strolling down by the beach or by using a dating web site. (I wonder if it the site could narrow down potential dates by "annual income"?)
He had many aliases, too: Tobias Osbourne, Jamie Hopegood, Toby Hughes, Jack Cadogan, Max Lane… he hadn’t used his real name for years. And he used a similar method in all his cons. Said authorities, who were contacted by multiple victims:
"His general theme was to attach himself to a series of men, deceive them as to his prospects and status, sometimes using assumed names, and tell them tales of hardship and bereavement to help him relieve them of significant sums of money.
"He would move on from one to another and practice very similar deceptions."
He came across as a charmer, said one victim. And like many con artists throughout history, he started small:
"I thought nothing of it when he asked me for £25 for a phone bill – and then another £25 because he needed to switch networks. It didn’t seem like much money and I never thought it would be a problem getting it back.
"Then he told me he was in the process of breaking up from his partner and needed somewhere to stay. So we stayed for about three weeks in a hotel, firstly in Burford and then in Cirencester. I ended up having to foot the entire bill because he said he was still sorting his finances out with his former partner.
"The whole thing was done on the basis that he was vulnerable."
Eventually when the man told Bishop he was running out of cash, Bishop disappeared.
"When the money didn’t appear back in my account like he said it would, I knew something was wrong so I took his photo to the police," he said. "They recognised him instantly and told me Tobias Osbourne wasn’t even his real name.
"I couldn’t believe it. Part of me didn’t want to believe it. You never think something like that will happen to you.
"I felt so gullible for having fallen for all his stories but he was very clever. I’m glad his actions have finally caught up with him. I don’t feel any sympathy for him but I don’t think prison will change him.
"The whole experience has left me scarred. I am far less trusting a person than when I first came across Tobias Osbourne.
"But I am sure there are lots of other people out there who, like me, feel stupid for having fallen for it. My advice to them would be to come out and contact police if this has happened to you."
In ten years, it’s estimated that the 37-year-old Mr. Bishop stole over £300,000 (about $467,000.) He was found guilty and sentenced to over four years in jail.
After he was arrested he said that he was relieved because he had told so many lies, he didn’t know who he was anymore.
– Gaydar conman jailed after stealing £300,000 in ten-year trail of fraud, Metro UK>>
– Jailed: Gaydar stalker Mark Bishop – profile of a conman, This is Gloucestershire>>