A FANTASIST conman with more than 20 aliases started scamming his new victims within days of his release from prison.

Sebastian Astbury – whose original name was Andrew Penfold – was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison in November 2016 for conning single women he’d met on dating websites out of more than £100,000.

At that time, he told his victims he'd worked in MI5 and had served with the Royal Navy. At one point, he claimed to have £50 million in his bank account.

The defendant, then known as Zac Langley, was released from a custodial sentence handed down for his deception on June 18 last year. By June 20 – two days later – he had already started targeting new victims for an elaborate scam.

Astbury, who is now 42 and of Yarrow Road in Poole, appeared for sentence at Bournemouth Crown Court yesterday after admitting four counts of fraud and four of failing to disclose a serious crime prevention order.

The court heard that using the name Zac Langley, the defendant established a company called Bramshaw’s Leasing Ltd, under which he offered new cars.

In total, he conned four men out of £12,500. The victims believed they were about to get new Mercedes, Volvo or Volkswagen cars under a lease agreement. However, no cars were ever ordered, and Astbury eventually stopped communicating with all of those affected as they desperately tried to call him for information.

One of the victims, veteran Kevin Burgess, invested money in the ‘business’. In a victim impact statement given to police and read out by prosecutor Stuart Ellacott, the victim, who has served in Iraq, said the incident had brought back his post traumatic stress disorder and caused a rift between him and his girlfriend.

“I felt I had failed in business and failed my girlfriend,” he said. “I spiralled out of control. I was suicidal.”

Another victim, Daniel De Vere, had met Astbury at HM Prison Ford. He said he was “absolutely gutted” after parting with £800 loaned to him by relatives for a new van in the hopes of continuing his previous career as an electrician.

The court heard Astbury has some 13 convictions for 89 offences – all of which are for dishonesty – dating back to 2000.

He applied to a judge at Bournemouth Crown Court to have his name changed to Sebastian Andrew Zachary Mathew Astbury on July 4 last year. Permission was granted after Astbury swore he was 'going straight'. However, by then he was already conning new victims.

Nick Tucker, mitigating, said prison doesn't work for the defendant – and asked for him to be released from custody to be with his new partner, a primary school teacher who calls him "incredibly caring, nurturing and supportive".

The woman's father even spoke for Astbury in court, offering him a minimum-wage job with classic cars.

But Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said Astbury is a "heavily convicted and persistent fraudster" and a "devious and selfish individual who has only money at the forefront of his mind".

The judge said he found the offences against the former serviceman particularly serious as the victim had confided in Astbury about his life. Astbury had made mention of a career in the services, which the judge noted as a feature of his previous offences.

Fellow former inmate Mr De Vere had written to the court to call the defendant a "career fraudster and a menace to society", Judge Fuller said, adding: "He hopes the wool will not be pulled over the court's eyes."

Astbury was sentenced to three years in prison and a five-year serious crime prevention order. He was also banned from acting as the director of a company for a decade.

Conman duped mum and daughter during cruel scam

As reported in the Daily Echo in 2017, Astbury – then known by alias Zac Langley – swindled £105,000 from three women he met through the dating site Plenty of Fish.

The defendant was handed a five-year prison sentence after pretending to be a Royal Marine, an MoD intelligence officer, a successful property developer and a shipping magnate to get his victims to part with their money.

Two of the women duped by Astbury bought him two luxury Range Rovers worth more than £120,000, as well as giving him a further £20,000 for bogus medical fees.

Another, a single mum, was tricked into buying him a brand new £31,000 Mercedes, as well as paying for a £2,000 weekend stay in Bath after he proposed to her and promised to build her a £4 million family home.