A man from Letchworth has been jailed after he defrauded dozens of people during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Robert Ashton, 37, from Pascal Way, set up numerous fake social media accounts during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.

He posted claims that he was a struggling single parent who had lost his partner and the mother of his children to Covid, and asked people to donate money to JustGiving and GoFundMe pages to help him pay bills and support his children.

Over several years, he collected at least £10,000 and "possibly much more", according to a Herts police spokesperson.


Many of his victims were elderly and vulnerable people who "could barely afford to spare the funds they had donated".

At a hearing at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday, December 5, Ashton was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison for fraud and was ordered to pay £290 in victim compensation.

He had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts of fraud by false representation.

Detective Constable Craig Blake, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit, said: “Ashton’s actions were despicable and callously calculating, inventing his hardships to manipulate people into giving money, even faking the death of a loved one.

"Many of his victims were also struggling during the pandemic but felt compassion for the single parent during a desperate time. It is highly likely that there are many more victims who have not come forward and may even still been unaware they were duped.

“If you believe you may have been a victim of a similar fraud – please report the details to Action Fraud.”

You can report fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article, based on information supplied by Hertfordshire Constabulary, incorrectly stated a different sentence.

This article has been updated with the correct sentence. We're happy to set the record straight and apologise for any confusion caused.