Ship sail

Scammer ‘impersonates cruise ship captain’ to sell fake luxury vacation

A con artist who defrauded victims out of £320,315 used to dress up as a ship’s captain in order to sell fake luxury holidays, a court has heard.

Jody Oliver, 33, wore a fake Carnival Cruise Line captain’s uniform and used a fake ID with the name ‘Captain Jonathan Flynn Oliver’ while peddling a cruise vacation that didn’t exist, have said prosecutors at Newport Crown Court last week.

Mr Oliver convinced at least nine people in the Newport, South Wales area that he was a ‘master sailor’, telling them he could get deals on luxury cruises between January 2018 and January 2019.

Prosecutors said Mr Oliver, a former police officer, invented the names of fictitious ship officers and designed fake cruise line payslips as part of his convict travel fraud scheme.

The victims said Mr Oliver first offered free cruises as “work benefits” before selling them at what he said were discounted prices. He claimed to have worked for Carnival Cruise Line for two years.

The court heard how the ‘seasoned’ scammer would then claim customers’ cruises had been delayed or cancelled, blaming ‘security issues’ or ‘ship issues’.

“He started posing as a cruise ship captain,” prosecutor Andrew Davies said.

“The simple scheme used by the defendant was to offer luxury cruises to exotic locations at a fraction of the price of those obtained from a legitimate agent.

“He created the aura of a cruise ship captain through various means, including dressing up as a captain when meeting people to discuss potential cruises.”

Mr Oliver admitted six counts of fraud by false representation for this scheme and others, and was jailed for six years.

Some victims who were friends of the scammer said they put their life savings in his hands in hopes of a “once in a lifetime” vacation at sea.

In conclusion, Mr Davies said: ‘The defendant was at the center of a complex web of lies and deception.

“He didn’t care who he hurt or tried to swindle and even lied to those he claimed to love.

“The defendant used different names and job descriptions to get money and lead a life he could not afford.

“He was living two separate imaginary lives, which he could not sustain on a legitimate income.”

A jury heard how Mr Oliver used the money to live a double life, dividing his time between his wife’s house and a boyfriend’s property.

Last week, a baggage scam was exposed by British Airways customers after fraudsters contacted airline passengers with missing bags, claiming they had to pay for it to be sent to them.