A “vulnerable” autistic man swindled out of £30,864 after responding to an online advert had terminal cancer and died without seeing the conwoman who duped him jailed today.

Caernarfon crown court heard he was an “easy target” for fraudsters.

Drug addict Helen Williams, aged 40, of Bridge Street, Caernarfon, had promised a £5 million return on his “investment,” the prosecution said.

Prosecuting counsel Anna Price said in 2017 vulnerable stranger Roger Willis had answered a Craigslist advert and paid £75 at first.

But further payments were then requested by Williams.

Miss Price said the defendant had then claimed to have trouble with her landlord and to have been threatened by a gang.

“She told him she had been taken hostage and beaten and dumped in woods.

He did exactly as she asked and continued to transfer various sums,” the barrister said.

Williams had then made phone calls to him and Mr Willis’s wife told him to contact police.

But, in the desperate hope that the investment did exist and also out of concern for Williams, he continued to transfer money to the defendant.

In a victim statement, Mr Willis had said she put him “through hell.” Miss Price said :”He felt an overpowering sense of bitterness and regret. It affected his mental health. It had a devastating impact on his relationship with his wife.”

At the time of writing the statement, he had a diagnosis of terminal cancer.

Williams was jailed for two years and nine months after admitting four frauds.

The prosecution said three of the offences involved her impersonating her 70-year-old mother after logging into her Facebook account. She’d tricked her cousin into making 27 payments, totalling £3,670, after claiming she had serious financial problems.

A conned friend of her mother lost £220. Williams had also begged an old work colleague of her mother for money and he gave her £500.

The offences were in 2017.

Defence barrister Dafydd Roberts said there didn’t appear to be any reasonable explanation for the delay in bringing the case to court. Williams had been sent to prison in 2017 and had since stayed off drugs and turned around her life.

Her mother had sought the removal of a restraining order and was at court to support her daughter.

“I invite the court to consider whether a suspended sentence can be imposed,” Mr Roberts added.

Judge Timothy Petts said it had taken an “unacceptable” length of time to investigate and prosecute Williams. But imprisonment was “unavoidable.” Mr Willis had been an “easy target.”

No compensation was awarded because the defendant didn’t have the money to re-pay the lost sums.