A CONMAN who pretended to be a cruise ship’s captain to sell bogus luxury holidays at exotic locations to friends, family members, and other acquaintances has finally been jailed.
A serial fraudster named Jody Oliver, formerly of Barbourne Road, duped victims of £320,000 by providing them unbelievable rates for non-existent cruise trips. Among those scammed were individuals who’ve lost savings believing they booked holidays that happen only once in a lifetime.
The “Walter Mitty” swindler went to an extraordinary extent to maintain the ruse and even dressed up as a P&O captain to deceive them.
Oliver was steadily living a dual private life and divided the time between his wife and boyfriend, who was based in Newport over the weekends.
Andrew Davies, who was prosecuting, mentioned that Oliver was at the centre of a web of lies and deceit. He didn’t care about who he hurt or wanted to swindle and lied to those he even professed to love.
The defendant used various names and job descriptions to source money and mainly lived a life he could not afford. He was living two different fantasy lives. Now, neither of these was sustainable with legitimate incomes.
Oliver told his boyfriend, Mr Burgess, that he was a successful high-flying businessman employed at Jaguar Land Rover. Burgess did not know that the defendant was married with three children.
After Oliver lied about having been “headhunted” by P&O owner Carnival, he started working on creating an alter ego named Captain Jonathan Flynn Oliver.
Centred on the Alma Inn pub based in Newport, where he frequently socialized, he started offering free cruises to circle, mentioning that these were perks his job offered before selling them at bargain rates.
By this time, Oliver was much over his head in debt and had already lost over £130,000 from gambling within 12 months and had taken out crippling high-interest loans to stay afloat. New sources mention that the simple ploy the defendant deployed was to provide luxurious cruises to some exotic locations at a fraction of the rate obtained from legitimate agents.
He created an aura of a cruise vessel’s captain by dressing up as a ship captain when he met people to discuss potential cruises.
The holidays were cancelled due to overseas security problems or cruise vessel issues.
It has been reported that Oliver was a seasoned con artist.
In 2004, the defendant reportedly gained notoriety after conning Colin McRae, the former world-champion rally driver, into believing that Coca-Cola would offer him a £3 million sponsorship deal.
The former special police constable was also convicted of another VAT scam about three years ago.
Oliver admitted six counts of fraud. The offences were reportedly committed between 2018 (February) and 2019 (January). Matthew Buckland, who was mitigating, said that he could offer an apology note on behalf of Oliver and that he had pleaded guilty.
Oliver was reportedly imprisoned for six years and might encounter proceeds of crime hearing as relevant authorities would be checking if money can be seized from him to compensate the victims.
References: Worcester News, South Wales Argus