A VIP gambler has been jailed for conning men she met on Tinder out of nearly $800,000 for a made-up blueberry farm and imaginary workers’ wages.
Jocelyn Zakhour, 41, also threatened to hurt one man’s family if he didn’t keep handing over money throughout 2018.
But there was never any farm or workers to be paid.
Instead, Zakhour gambled her two victims’ cash away at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, where she lived and was a VIP.
She sobbed as she was jailed in Victoria’s County Court on Tuesday for a maximum of four-and-a-half years.
“It was a ruthless exploitation and you have broken the ability of both men to be able to trust those around them,” Judge Gregory Lyon said.
Zakhour used Tinder as a “hunting ground” to find victims.
She told the first man she needed money for a blueberry farm and promised him a 300 per cent return on his investment.
She then told him the farm was also linked to illegal cigarettes and demanded more cash.
The woman said her workers would hurt the man’s family and go to the police if they were not paid.
“These people have their ways,” Zakhour warned.
She also sent the man 240 emails, including threats against his ex-wife, children and mother, and took a photo of his home and sent it to him in a bid for even more money.
All up, the man lost $723,700.
He said his life had been ruined, and he was forced to borrow money from family and friends.
After being caught, Zakhour blamed him for being so stupid as to believe her lies.
She also targeted a financial planner after matching with him on Tinder.
He reluctantly handed over $61,000, supposedly to pay for Zakhour’s farm equipment and to cover her workers’ wages.
The con woman initially claimed to be the victim and said she had been seduced.
A psychologist said Zakhour had become hooked on power and the facade of success.
Money lost its value to her and was simply a way to feed her gambling habit, the court was told.
She pleaded guilty to six charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception, three of blackmail and two of extortion with the threat to inflict injury.
Zakhour has repaid about a tenth of the men’s cash.
She must serve two years and eight months of her jail sentence before becoming eligible for parole.