John Clifton Davies or as he was better known, John Bernard, a tech invest has finally been convicted of fraud. 12 counts of fraud by breach of trust that is. The 53-year-old from Milton Keyes has been found guilty in relation to charges from 9 different companies. He failed to attend court and a warrant for his arrest has been issued.
Throughout his dealings, he gained over £750,000 from these companies. He would claim to be insolvency and business advisor. Then, targeting fresh start-ups or business that were in danger of collapsing, he would incorrectly advise them. This would ultimately lead to them spending money that could have saved the company being spent on him. All the money he accrued in this manner he used to live an extremely luxurious life. He cost several people their jobs and even their companies.
How did he operate?
His firm, “The Private Office of John Bernard”, advertised as a capital investment firm supposedly based in Switzerland. His Modus Operandi was always the same. Several of his victims reported that he would offer investments in the millions without much hesitation. Then, he would demand that they cover all costs associated with the due diligence that is the norm during investments.
Companies would always have their doubts but he would gain their trust. He would then insist that they use a site called “Inside Knowledge” to do all the necessary checks. Claiming that he had issues with several major players he would insist on this site. What his clients did not know was that he owned this site as well. He would then take this money and back out of the deal.
Having done this to several companies, he had gained quite some expertise. He would justify any qualms hies clients had. Accusations of his employees seeming to work in Ukraine instead of Switzerland came up. He refuted this by saying that he moved to Ukrain as his wife was from there. In this manner, he managed to hoodwink several firms and lead a lavish lifestyle with fancy foreign vacations, cars and so on.
How did he get away with this?
John Bernard matched with the profile of John Clifton Davies when a screenshot of his face was cross-referenced. John Clifton Davies had spent 16 months in prison for the murder of his wife while on a trip to India. However, there was not enough evidence to convict him. This led to him being free once again with dropped charges.
His approach to the whole matter was rather clever. He never approached firms with his services. Instead, he listed himself as an Angel Investor. He got the attention of brokers too. With a promise of 5% of the deal, the recommended whoever they could. This was generous, but as he never closed any deals, no broker could claim anything.
Ultimately, this goes to show the lengths to which individuals can go to trap firms. If anything, this should serve as a warning about trusting any deal that seems too good to be true. Therefore, make sure you check your investors multiple times.