A gambling addict who hoodwinked his friend into thinking he had cancer so he could steal more than half a million pounds to clear his debts has been jailed for 21 months.
Peter Saad, from Nottingham, devised the sham in order to pay back £521,889 he owed to loan sharks, a court heard.
Chester Crown Court was told that between September 2018 and May 2019 the 32-year-old persuaded his friend to hand over large sums of cash for bogus projects.
The unnamed victim is the chairman and chief executive of an investments and credit group in Warrington, Cheshire, the court heard.
Saad began his fake news campaign by claiming his family was struggling to meet their mortgage repayments because of a pharmacy they had bought in America.
He then made up a story about having had a loan from a well-known member of an American church.
When his money ran out Saad's lies reached a sickening low when he told his friend that he had cancer, forging emails and even inventing scans and operations which he said he needed money to pay for.
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As the deception escalated, he convinced the victim to set up a pharmaceutical company with Saad as one of the directors.
He forged invoices to get money for bogus work and for equipment he had already bought for half the price.
Alarm bells started to ring when the victim's finance staff became suspicious and Saad's sham began to unravel.
An invoice was checked with a company who confirmed they had never been asked to carry out work for him and the depth of Saad's deceit was uncovered, with the victim's costs having skyrocketed.
Saad appeared at Chester Crown Court on February 22 and pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation.
Speaking after the trial, DC Lee Ellis said: "Saad hoodwinked his friends, family and business associates with elaborate lies to fund his gambling habit and his debts.
"He abused the trust placed in him and is now paying the price for his crimes, leaving those who thought they knew him not only out of pocket by hundreds of thousands, but also feeling betrayed and hurt by his actions."
David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire Police said: "This case highlights just what can happen when an addiction gets out of control, whether its drugs, gambling or alcohol.
"We want people to admit their addictions before it's too late so they can get the help they need and support from their family and friends.
"That's why I am committed to funding charities, which help those in need in our communities and why I would urge those in crisis never to suffer in silence."
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