Samantha Wiles’s cruel deception fooled the man and his family into handing over cash and clothes for the non-existent baby girl, York Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor James Bourne-Arton said the mother-of-three and the man met online and moved into a house in Scarborough in 2015.
Wiles, 33, a senior care worker for people with mental-health problems at a care home, told him she was pregnant but he was worried she may have a miscarriage due to drug-taking and they split.
“The man moved back to Leeds,” said Mr Bourne-Arton. “In April, he was told (by Wiles) that he had a daughter, but that (the baby) was under-weight and very poorly, in intensive care.
He was sent a picture of her in intensive care and told no-one was allowed to visit her in that incubator. He was told by the defendant to prepare himself for the worst.”
Wiles’ ex checked at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital but was told there was no-one by the name of the ‘baby’.
Between May and August 2016, he sent Â£1,000 and it was only when he turned to a solicitor was he told it was a con and Wiles was arrested.
Defence barrister Andrea Parnham claimed that Wiles, who admitted fraud, was “deeply ashamed of her conduct”. She was on sick leave for “anxiety and depression”.
In August 2017, police raided the home she shared with her new partner Jonathon Hardcastle and found 10 cannabis plants – which had an estimated yield of Â£4,500. Police found Â£920 in cash, cannabis and dealer bags at a property in Longwestgate.
The court heard Hardcastle was the driving force and Wiles answered the door to drug customers on occasion.
The couple, now of Roscoe Street, admitted supplying cannabis and possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply. Hardcastle, 33, who also admitted cannabis production and possessing criminal cash, had a lengthy criminal record for offences including burglary and serious violence.
Andrew Semple, for Hardcastle, said his client had embarked on the drug-dealing operation as a “short-term way out” after losing his job and racking up huge debts.
Judge Simon Hickey said Wiles’s swindling was “particularly mean”, adding: “It must have had a devastating effect on him to think he had an ill daughter in hospital. This was deliberate targeting of a vulnerable man.”
Mr Hickey said Wiles “richly deserved” to go to jail, but agreed with her defence that her children would suffer.
Wiles was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to complete 15 rehabilitation-activity days.
Hardcastle was jailed for 10 months for drug supply.