‘Catch Me If You Can’-style conman exposed after decades of bizarre lies, scams: report

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A man in the U.K. who claimed to be friends with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a pilot with a multimillion-dollar trust fund, and a cruise ship captain was exposed as a decades-long conman who swindled millions of dollars from people, according to a report.

Jody Francis Oliver, 45, is currently behind bars on fraud and theft charges after leading seven different lives and allegedly swindling roughly $5.6 million from people, The Times of London reported. For decades, the man reportedly took on different high-powered identities, despite being an unemployed married dad of three.

Oliver reportedly began his lies after he left high school, when he worked as a special constable for the Dyfed-Powys police department in Wales. He lost his job from the department after forging a letter to the chief constable claiming to be a senior officer who commended Oliver’s work as an officer and said he won a policing award, according to The Times. 

He went on to marry his school teacher wife in 2002, and set up a driving school and eventually connected with British Rally Champion driver Colin McRae. The conman, who has been likened by U.K. media to American convicted felon Frank Abagnale of “Catch Me if You Can” movie fame, told the driver that he had secured him a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola. He also reportedly told another young driver he secured him a more than $400,000 sponsorship deal with Ryanair, claiming he was friends with the Irish airline’s CEO. Neither of the deals were real, according to The Times.

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UK mug shot

Booking photo for U.K. man Jody Francis Oliver. (Wales News Service)

“For what purpose he did all of this, I’m not sure,” said Campbell Roy, a business manager of McRae, who died in 2007. “It was likely just an ego trip,” he added, explaining the lies did not provide Oliver with an immediate financial benefit.

Oliver was discovered by police for forging documents for the phony sponsorships and sentenced to community service in 2004, but the cons only grew from there, the report shows.

He went on to found gambling slot machine companies in 2009, where he claimed to colleagues he was friends with Boris Johnson, and dressed in expensive clothing and drove costly new cars like Range Rovers. By 2010, bank records showed he was thousands of dollars in debt and had been caught up in continuously playing the slot machines, according to those who worked with Oliver.

“If you met Jody, you wouldn’t wish to meet a nicer man,” Anthony Brookes, who eventually bought one of Oliver’s companies, told The Times. “But working with him turned out to be one of the worst experiences of my life.”

Jody Oliver charged

Jody Francis Oliver is accused of taking on multiple personas that he used to swindle money from people. (Wales News Service)

Oliver reportedly began spending more time away from his family during these years, claiming he was the co-owner of a funeral home and had to work “death duty” on certain weekends. Oliver was allegedly actually spending his weekends under the pseudonym “Jonathan Kane” in the Welsh town of Tredegar, where he reportedly told people he was a police officer who had a wealthy boyfriend.

By 2011, Oliver was using the name “Jonathan Flynn Oliver” and began dating a 19-year-old, Rhys Burgess, whom he met on a gay dating app. Oliver claimed to his boyfriend that he was the “director of events” at Jaguar Land Rover and the couple eventually moved in together. Oliver was still married to his wife, according to the report, who believed her husband was spending his weekends working at the funeral home.

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The pair became engaged in 2013, with Oliver bankrolling a lavish lifestyle, including a vacation for the two to an ice hotel in Sweden, dinner at the Eiffel Tower and putting his boyfriend on the payroll at one of the gambling businesses.

By 2016, Oliver called on his wife’s father and claimed his bank account was hacked and needed cash. His father-in-law transferred him roughly $130,000 before realizing Oliver lied to him and contacted police, The Times reported.

In 2018, his gambling debts began stacking higher to the tune of roughly $160,000 and needed more money. He told his fiance that he got a job as a cruise ship captain and another false identity was born. 

Jody Oliver

Jody Francis Oliver will be behind bars for more than six years. (Wales News Service)

Oliver reportedly hung around a Welsh bar wearing a captain’s uniform and going by the name of “Captain Jonathan.” He would offer discount cruise tickets to those in the pub, promising people that taxis would collect them the day of departure. But no taxis ever arrived and Oliver was reported to police in January 2019. He was accused of swindling just under $400,000 from 21 victims, many of whom were elderly and retired.

Word spread in the Welsh community of Oliver’s lies, which eventually got back to his wife, who discovered a Facebook profile of him with his secret fiance. Days after he was interviewed by police, however, Oliver traveled 70 miles away to Worcestershire, took on the name “Joey Oliver” and got a job at a Volvo dealership, The Times reported.

He told colleagues at the garage he previously worked for Volvo in Sweden and spoke fluent Swedish. A fellow employee, however, recorded Oliver speaking what he said was Swedish on a phone call, ran it through Google translate and discovered it was gibberish.

He also sold thousands of dollars worth of fake Volvo shares to an 89-year-old former racehorse trainer and sold a car to another woman but the vehicle was never delivered to her driveway, according to the report.

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He was ultimately arrested for the ship captain scams, claimed he had a brain tumor and tried to tell police he did in fact work for a cruise line and that they were responsible for the issues with the cruise tickets. He was ultimately released on bail for the cruise captain scam, as well as for him selling fake Volvo shares. Police continued investigating him, however. 

He took on another persona 100 miles away from Worcester, going by the name “Joe Oliver,” who worked at another car dealership. He claimed to colleagues he previously worked as the global head of events for Ford Motor Company in the U.S. and personally knew “Mr. Ford.”

In late 2020, he yet again changed his identity, this time telling people he was a British Airways pilot who was flush with cash after his phony deceased grandmother left him $37 million in her will. 

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He met another man on a gay dating app, 27-year-old barber Liam Britten, who he lavished with gifts such as designer clothes and expensive underwear, the outlet reported. He proposed to Britten on Valentine’s Day that year and became close to the man’s family. He went on to swindle Britten’s elderly relatives of roughly $9,000, claiming he could get them discount flights to the 2021 British Grand Prix. The tickets never existed, the family found out, and became suspicious of Oliver, The Times reported.

Jody Francis Oliver in uniform

Jody Francis Oliver wearing a phony flight captain’s uniform. (Wales News Service)

Britten and Oliver spent Christmas at a friend’s apartment in Westbourne Gardens, where he sold an estimated $37,000 in “discounted” airline tickets to acquaintances. Oliver then went on to pretend he had cancer in his spine and a leg, and was taken care of by Britten’s family.

Oliver claimed to Britten and his family in August 2021 that he was running out for an errand, but never returned. 

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Oliver was sentenced in August 2022 to six years and one month for the cruise ticket scams. In May of this year, Oliver pleaded guilty to another 17 charges of fraud and theft regarding his time as a car salesman, as well as for lying to his father-in-law in order to obtain $130,000. 

Jody Oliver sentencing

A judge overseeing Jody Francis Oliver’s case said he is a “devious and thoroughly dishonest character.”

Out of the estimated $5.6 million he stole from people, he pocketed roughly $1.5 million, according to The Times. The court seized all of his assets in May, which totaled £351, or about $434. Many of his victims have not recovered their losses in Oliver’s scams, the outlet noted. 

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The judge presiding over Oliver’s case this year called him a “devious and thoroughly dishonest character who will stop at nothing to defraud others.” 

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