A serial "sugar daddy" who scammed underage girls and women around the world into sending him sexually explicit photos has been jailed.

Samuel Ward, from Newmarket, has been sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court on Monday after pleading guilty to charges including making indecent images of children. 

The 27-year-old mocked up online bank statements to trick teenage girls he found on social media into sending him sexually explicit photos for cash which never arrived. 

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The National Crime Agency (NCA) began an investigation into Ward after a 17-year-old girl from Florida approached US law enforcement after being targeted by him. 

In May 2020, Ward approached her using two different Instagram accounts offering her a weekly fee of $500 for sending him sexual images and videos of her, which was never paid.

He would 'prove' he had the funds by sending a doctored image of a bank account - in this instance, showing a balance of nearly £99,000. 

The investigators identified Ward as the scammer behind the 'sugar daddy' accounts and discovered that he had approached a total of 40 females - 33 in the UK, six in the US and one in Ireland. 

Eighteen victims fell for the scam, including four girls under the age of 18, between 2019 and 2021.

One of the victims, a 17-year-old known to Ward, reported to the police that he had coerced her into sending 57 explicit images between November 2019 and March 2020. 

Ward would send her messages such as "if u loved me u would have made some kind of effort" and offered £10,000 for the images, which never materialised. 

After his arrest officers found that Ward had remained in an overdraft for the entirety of his two-year offending period. 

In April this year, he pleaded guilty to 19 charges, including fraud, possession of an article for use in fraud, making indecent images of children and malicious communication.

He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and given a five-year sexual harm prevention order. 

Adam Priestly, NCA Senior Investigating Officer, said: "Ward relentlessly targeted teenage girls and young women online with promises of payments he never intended on sending, nor had the means to do so.

"I would like to commend the victims who assisted our enquiries, including the 17-year-old from the US who first reported Ward's offending to the police.

"Her brave actions led to an international investigation that has seen Ward brought to justice, and identified many more victims of his abuse."