Conman who adopted 21 different aliases jailed for £3,000 fraud

Plenty of Fish conman who has posed as MI5 spy, banker, Lord, Navy officer, Royal Marine, property developer, shipping magnate, winemaker and luxury car salesman to con victims out of hundreds of thousands is back behind bars after £3,000 fraud

  • Sebastian Astbury, 44, has 66 previous convictions of fraud
  • He posed as a landscape gardener with his own business for his latest scam
  • The fraudster has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison 
  • He previously conned a woman he met on a dating website out of £100,000 

A compulsive conman who spent two decades adopting 21 different aliases to scam victims out of hundred of thousands of pounds has been sent to prison once more.

Sebastian Astbury has posed as an MI5 agent, a banker, a Lord, a Royal Navy officer, a Royal Marine, a property developer, a shipping magnate, a wine maker and a luxury car salesman to hoodwink his victims.

The 44-year-old fantasist – who has 66 previous convictions for fraud – cheated his latest victim by posing as a landscape gardener just months after being released from prison. 

The notorious criminal, from Poole, previously conned a woman and her mother out of £100,000 after meeting her on dating website plentyoffish.com and saying he was a wealthy Royal Marine officer. 

Sebastian Astbury, 44, has posed in 21 different roles to swindle people out of hundreds of thousands of pounds over two decades

He also pretended to be a car salesman to swindle four men out of more than £25,000 to lease luxury vehicles that didn’t exist.

Astbury was today jailed for two and a half years for fraud and breaching a serious crime prevention order.

David Russell was the latest sufferer of Astbury’s plans when the fraudster posed as a landscape gardener to swindle him out of £3,000: £2,415 for materials and £655 for extra costs.  

Russell paid the money up front but shortly received a worrying message from the website MyBuilder explaining it had removed Astbury’s company from its listings and closed his account.


Astbury’s real name is Andrew Penfold but he has also been called Zac Langley. He has been jailed for 2.5 years for his most recent con pretending to be a landscape gardener

The materials were due to arrive on July 8 and 9 and the work was due to begin on July 12 but none of the materials arrived and no one turned up. 

Astbury, whose real name is Andrew Penfold but has also been called Zac Langley, disappeared and ignored Mr Russell’s calls and demands for a refund. 

Mr Russell said: ‘In my mind, he must be a bit simple. What drives him to do this? Prison food? I just don’t get it.’

The notorious criminal, from Poole, previously conned a woman and her mother out of £100,000 after meeting her on dating website plentyoffish.com and saying he was a wealthy Royal Marine officer

He was released early from prison in February 2021 after serving 12 months of a two year sentence – on the condition he would not accept money from potential customers without showing them his previous criminal convictions.

But he was soon back to his conman ways, beginning a landscaping business called New Forest Landscape and Design, which he advertised on MyBuilder.   

Mike Mason, prosecuting, read a victim impact statement from Mr Russell to Bristol Crown Court describing how Astbury’s scam had left him with feelings of ‘hopelessness and stupidity’.

He said he found it ‘traumatic’ when he went to buy a new car by bank transfer in case he was ripped off again.  

The mitigation said Astbury ‘has got some charisma which is why he has been so able to persuade people to trust him’

Neil Hinton, mitigating, described his client as a ‘charismatic and persuasive’ man who gets ‘carried away’ by compulsive spending sprees.

He said: ‘Mr Astbury is generally somebody who people find pleasant. He has got some charisma which is why he has been so able to persuade people to trust him.

‘He has gone into these (business) ventures with the best of intentions. He is capable of doing good work and a number of people have got what they asked and paid for.

‘It seems to me that things get on top of him and he spends money he gets upfront on other things rather than the job at hand.

‘He spends more money than he can keep up with and it ends up being fraud.

‘This seems to be a man who is acting almost by compulsion. If he is able to break that cycle he would be able to earn a decent living.’

Judge William Mousley ordered Astbury to pay £1,500 in compensation to Mr Russell in addition to the jail sentence. 

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