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A “deceptive and malicious” con artist who posed as an international showjumper to swindle his victims has been jailed.

James Condliffe, 34, of Shropshire (pictured, below), scammed investors — including his own girlfriend — out of £280,000 by pretending to be a professional rider and dealer.

Condliffe convinced people to invest large amounts of money for him to buy horses to train and compete. But these investors were unaware that the scammer had bought the horses for much less money than the price he quoted them and was pocketing the difference.

He also further deceived his victims by pretending to own a large property in Charing, Kent, to which he invited his prospective investors.

Following the sentencing, detective constable Mark Agnew from the serious economic crime unit said Condliffe “funded his lifestyle by fraud”.

“He boasted to the investors that he was a good rider, even suggesting he was going to the Olympics in Brazil,” said DC Agnew.

“He had no legitimate income, his only income was the money he defrauded from his victims.”

James Condliffe

One of his victims was an 85-year-old man, who agreed to rent his stables in Ashford to Condliffe.

The crook convinced him to “invest” £50,000 in a horse — when in fact Condliffe only paid £35,000. He also persuaded him to write various blank cheques and take out a £25,000 bank loan. In total he was defrauded of over £100,000.

Another of his victims was tricked into putting up £20,000 for a non-existent horse, while a further victim — who was his girlfriend at the time — was pressured into paying £35,000 for a horse that had actually been bought for £16,000.

When the victims asked for their cash to be returned, Condliffe told them he was waiting for money to come from his parents’ estate as they had died — which was a lie.

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The victims started to get suspicious and reported him to Kent Police.

Officers from the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate arrested the 34-year-old in May 2014.

He was charged with 21 offences of fraud by false representation and one of using a false instrument between July 2012 and July 2014, which he admitted.

On 23 March this year, he was jailed for four years and three months at Maidstone Crown Court. This will run consecutively once he has served four years and nine months for a fraud committed in Hampshire.

The judge has also made him the subject of a five-year serious crime prevention order, which will start on his release from prison. This bans him from engaging in any business related to the horse industry, financial advice and investment opportunities.

“Condliffe’s offending was deceptive and malicious,” added DC Agnew. “By targeting victims in this way, he has shown he is a danger to the public and I welcome the sentence he has received.”

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