Inside 10-year con where Puppet Master pretended to be MI5 spy to swindle £1m

Robert Hendy-Freegard, one of Britain's boldest and cruellest conmen is the subject of a new Netflix true-crime drama that will interview the families he fleeced hundreds of thousands of pounds from before being caught.

Hendy-Freegard, known as 'the Puppet Master', operated for a decade between 1992 and 2002 and would pretend he was a member of MI5 to intimidate his victims into doing what he wanted.

He used the cash he had stolen to fund a luxury life for himself.

While his victims were penniless, he would splurge on sports cars, designer suits, expensive meals, and five-star holidays abroad to Brazil.

There was no lower limit to how desperate he would stoop to advance himself, with the tactics he used on his victims including asking them for money, convincing them to cut off their family and friends and undergoing 'loyalty tests'.

During his crime spree, Hendy-Freegard targeted at least seven women and one man and almost got away with a million pounds in ill-gotten gains.

Hendy-Freegard's story was so convincing his victims were scared they were accomplices in highly elaborate secret service operations and that their families were in grave danger if they did not obey.

After Hendy-Freegard had established he was an MI5 agent, he would use their trust to control their lives.

Hendy-Freegard's first target was a group of friends, two women and one man, who all studied at Harper Adams.

In 1992, while working at a pub in Shropshire in 1992, he told them he was actually an MI5 undercover agent investigating an IRA cell at Harper Adams.

After becoming mates with them he convinced them of his role and made them perform bizarre missions.

Eventually, he confided in the male victim his cover as an agent was blown and they both now needed to go undercover.

Adding to his shocking lies, he told the two female friends, the man had cancer and they needed to all go on a 'farewell tour' of England.

The group then relocated to Sheffield, where he forced them to cut off contact with their families because they were in danger and give him all their money.

He would continue this charade with several victims over ten years before he was caught.

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In 2002 Scotland Yard and the FBI organized a sting operation and caught Hendy-Freegard reports the LiverpoolEcho.

A London court then convicted him for two counts of kidnapping, 10 of theft, and eight of deception.

On September 6 2005 he was given a life sentence.

In 2007, he appealed against the kidnapping convictions to the House of Lords and won.

It has since been reported that he was released in May 2009 but when Netflix contacted him for the documentary they received no response.

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