A man staged his own kidnap and sent ‘torture’ videos to victims to con them out of thousands of pounds.
Christopher Sellman, 23, created an elaborate series of lies to obtain around £10,000 from two people he knew and sent disturbing videos to them.
He sent pictures of a razor blade to his throat, a crossbow to his temple, and videos of him being forced under water.
Sellman was aided by his ex-partner, 28-year-old Stephanie Gibb, in the elaborate blackmail plot.
The victims first received social media messages from an unrecognised phone number, containing a picture of Sellman with a razor blade being held to his throat, in February this year.
The message appeared to be from someone who said they had kidnapped Sellman and that he would only be released if the victims paid money into a bank account, which was controlled by the defendant.
The victims did as requested but the following day, the ‘kidnappers demanded more money’.
They then received a photo of Sellman with a gun in his mouth, and then paid £1,000 in response.
When more threatening messages arrived and the victims said they had no more money, they were threatened with violence and told that the ‘kidnappers’ knew where the victims lived.
Contacting Kent Police, the victims changed their phone numbers but instead began to get messages sent via email and social media platforms.
Detectives identified similar typos and grammar errors between messages sent by Sellman and those of the kidnappers.
Officers attended Sellman’s Ashford address where he was arrested on suspicion of blackmail on March 24.
Weapons matching those seen in the photos, as well as mobile phones containing the threatening messages, were recovered from the property.
It was discovered Sellman and Gibb had been using the victims’ money to pay for sport clothing and takeaways.
Sellman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years and four months in prison at Canterbury crown court .
Gibb, 28, of Ashford, received an 18-month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, after she admitted her part in the blackmail plot.
Investigating officer PC Edward Pegg said: ‘Sellman showed an appalling abuse of trust for those who care about him, faking his own kidnap and torture for money to spend on sports clothing and takeaways.
‘The victims were terrified of the consequences if they didn’t pay, their only concern being to protect Sellman.
‘My thoughts are with the victims, and I hope they are able to look forward and take the time they need to recover from this incident.’