Court jails man who conned disabled father in €1.4m fraud

Court jails man who conned disabled father in €1.4m fraud

A man who took more than a million pounds from his severely-disabled father's bank account to go on a lavish spending spree has been jailed for five years in England.

Geovonne Oliver, 21, fooled Barclays Bank into thinking he was his father Derrick to take £1.265m (€1.496m) from a medical negligence compensation payment the older man won after a hospital error saw him have to have the lower part of both legs and some fingers amputated in 2008.

The Jamaican national, who was aged just 19 at the time he raided his father's account in 2014, splurged it on "lavish" treats for himself, including a £64,000 (€75,000) BMW M4 with the personalised number plate G7 GIO, expensive watches and renting out luxury apartments in south-east London.

While Derrick was on a six-month trip to see family in Jamaica, Geovonne phoned Barclays pretending to be his father and conned them into setting up online and telephone banking facilities that allowed him to siphon off the cash, Southwark Crown Court in London heard.

Sentencing Geovonne for fraud, money laundering and perverting the course of justice, Judge Andrew Goymer rejected his claim he had started the con to help his mother and seven step-siblings living in poverty in Jamaica.

Metropolitan Police handout photo of Geovonne Oliver.
Metropolitan Police handout photo of Geovonne Oliver.

Judge Goymer said: "I'm unable to accept that explanation. It is clear that some sums were paid to her that were only a fraction of the money that was taken.

"The money was then spent on gambling, on cars and living in luxury rented flats.

"At no stage was he providing himself with the basic necessities of life. Nor was he using the money to further his education or set himself up in education.

"He was using that money to spend on luxuries for himself.

"It was as mean and despicable a fraud as anyone can imagine. This man mercilessly took money from his severely-disabled father and spent it on enjoying himself."

The court heard that just £97,000 (€114,000) - less than 10% of the money taken by Geovonne, of Lewisham - has been recovered.

Geovonne Oliver also fooled Metropolitan Police detectives into briefly halting a money laundering probe into him by phoning and emailing them while pretending to be his own father, the court heard.

He spoke to a detective and then emailed him from an account set up the same day with fake documents claiming he had given his son some £400,000 (€473,000).

Prosecutor David Hughes told the court: "In short, what he had done with Barclays in January 2014 he did with the Metropolitan Police in August 2014. He impersonated his father with the consequences that flow from that."

Mr Hughes added: "As a result of the conversation that the Crown say was with this defendant, and the emails with attachments being sent, the investigation into money laundering was closed."

However, it was reopened a few days later after the criminal's deception was uncovered by Scotland Yard cyber-crime investigators.

Geovonne Oliver was arrested and charged in January 2015.

He sat with his head bowed as his sentence was passed on Tuesday.

He went on the run for a day on July 25, when his trial had been due to start, and changed his previous not guilty pleas to guilty after handing himself in and being brought to court. He was also sentenced for breaching his bail, while a charge of theft will lay on file.

Derrick Oliver had been given a total of £2.4m (€2.83m) by the High Court in 2008 for his injuries, the court heard, splitting the rest between two bank accounts, including one at Barclays.

He gave £10,000 (€11,800) to Geovonne and his sister in joint accounts he set up with both of them.

As well as the lavish spending of his father's money, some £250,000 (€295,000) in total was moved by Geovonne through a series of transactions into the accounts of two friends, Jacques Konate, 21, and pawnbroker Boon Tai, 44.

Tai was convicted of money laundering at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday and jailed for three years.

The jury of five women and seven men failed to reach a verdict on Konate on the same charge and was discharged.

Prosecutors have seven days decide whether to seek a retrial. Mr Hughes said that Derrick Oliver had yet to be compensated by Barclays for the breach in security but it was expected that he would be after the court case ended.

Detective Constable Mick Diddams, from Scotland Yard's Cyber Crime Unit said: "The majority of fraud cases have an element of anonymity. This case, however, is personal.

"Oliver has worked hard to steal from his own family and then frivolously wasted the money on a shopping spree."

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