A fraudster has admitted luring women into having sex with him by claiming they would be paid up to £15,000 in university scholarships, on a fake website called Sponsor A Scholar.
Mark Lancaster, 40, from Waterlooville, Hampshire admitted voyeurism and trafficking women for sexual exploitation at Southwark Crown Court today.
Lancaster set up the site that claimed to offer thousands of pounds to poor students in return for sex, but the sponsors did not exist.
Before Lancaster's arrest, The Huffington Post UK registered with the site under a pseudonym and was told by the "principal assessor" there was an interview waiting list of two to three weeks.
We were told: "I note from your registration form you have a preferred interview location of Central London, if there are any other locations which are suitable for interview then let me know as I may be able to fit you in sooner."
The email continued: "It is important to stress Sponsor A Scholar does not stipulate what should occur between two consenting adults in a hotel room, but based upon the considerable sums of money are [sic] sponsors are offering, they tell us they have expectations of a level of sexual intimacy with their chosen student."
He then adds his company offers a £250 referral fee for promoting the site to friends.
We then received another email, this time from Emma Forester, who calls herself "principle [sic] admissions secretary".
She said: "You have been assigned to one of our most experienced assessors. [He] has been with us since the beginning in 2006 and in that time he has helped over 400 students to join and find the right sponsor through us."
An undercover investigation by the Independent revealed had attempted to lure students back to a flat in order to conduct a "practical assessment".
He told the newspaper's reporter: "[We] make sure you that you're comfortable to do that, to... get an idea of what your first meeting with the sponsor will be. We have to... make sure when we put you in front of your sponsor you're confident in doing the things you said you would do.
"The more you're prepared to do the more interest you're going to get."
Using the name Emma Forester, he would reply to interested women saying that a man called John would call them.
More than 40 people contacted the site, and Lancaster actually met with a small number of women in a flat he had rented.
At least once he fitted hidden cameras in the bedroom and bathroom and secretly made a sex tape of one of the women.
He claimed the sexual activity was the practical assessment of the interview process.
Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland said: "Mark Lancaster targeted vulnerable students in an elaborate and sophisticated scam.
"He set up 'Sponsor a Scholar' purporting to be a respected academic. A number of women are believed to have contacted the site.
"He deceived a student and sexually exploited her for his own gratification. He covertly filmed sexual acts without the knowledge of the victim and continued to maintain the pretence that his business was legitimate.
"After this encounter he was exposed by an undercover journalist and the Metropolitan Police followed up this news report.
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the victim for her bravery and resilience and appeal for any victims of this or similar crimes to come forward. We hope that the victim takes some comfort from today's guilty plea."
He will be sentenced on July 19 for voyeurism in September 2012 and trafficking people within the UK for sexual exploitation in the same month.
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