A serial fraudster who posed as a travel agent conning holidaymakers out of more than £80,000 has been jailed.
Jonathan Richman, 52, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to carrying out a range of frauds over four years. He was sentenced to two years behind bars at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday (October 6).
An investigation was launched after victims of the scam were questioned over fraudulent credit card use on return from a holiday at Heathrow Airport .
Enquiries unravelled Richman's deceit and led to his arrest around 17 months later at Gatwick Airport as he attempted to flee the country.
The crimes were committed between 2011 and 2015 when he acted as a fake travel agent offering last minute deals to customers at low prices.
He made the payments using fraudulent credit card details while clients paid their money directly into accounts controlled by Richman, which he would then withdraw and spend the cash on untraceable items.
Credit card companies spotted the fraudulent payments and recovered the money, which left travel companies thousands of pounds out of pocket.
In some cases where the fraud was detected early on customers had their holidays cancelled and were unable to get their money back.
In September 2013, the Met's Aviation Policing Command team arrested two people returning from a holiday in Thailand at Heathrow Airport and it quickly became apparent they were victims of Richman's fraud.
The search for his true identity led to a bank account in the name of Jamie Malcolm in Brighton where officers found the address had been vacated.
A letting agent found a photocopy of a passport for Jamie Malcolm alongside Richman's photo, but officers were unable to establish the man or his whereabouts.
One year later, in October 2014, Richman called the Heathrow CID office and made threats against one of the investigating officers and his family telling him to "leave [him] alone".
Detectives traced the mobile phone numbers used to make the calls, linking them to Richman.
CCTV footage from a store in Brighton also showed Richman purchasing a top-up card for the phone.
Richman was arrested in February 2015 in Brighton and a search of the address uncovered bank cards for accounts into which he was receiving payments for holidays from his "clients".
A memory stick with personal customer details stolen from Barclays in 2008 was also found.
Further enquiries uncovered an additional fraud where the conman had contacted two different companies posing as one of their employees in order to trick them into paying their salary into an account he controlled; succeeding in one attempt and failing in the other.
Around 16 victims - companies or people - had fallen foul of Richman's scams.
Richman was initially charged with fraud and malicious communications offences (linked to the threatening calls he made to officers) and convicted of these in March 2015 and sentenced to four years in jail.
Investigations continued and five additional charges were added; fraud, money laundering and possession of fraudulent documents, possession of articles for use in fraud and one count of witness intimidation.
Richman was released on licence from prison in August 2016, but breached this and was on the run from police.
A warrant for his arrest was issued and he was arrested at Gatwick Airport on August 28 attempting to board a flight to Morocco.
He was charged the following day with the additional offences - three counts of fraud, money laundering and the possession of fraudulent documents and articles for use in fraud - and pleaded guilty at Isleworth Crown Court on September 27.
Two counts of fraud and the witness intimidation charges are to lie on file.
Detective Sergeant Dave Bullamore, from the Met's Aviation Policing Command, said: "Richman was carrying out these frauds effectively as a full time occupation.
"He went to great lengths to try and conceal his true identity, right from renting a flat under a false name to setting up fake bank accounts.
"But his arrogance proved to be his downfall when he called the detectives to threaten and warn them off from investigating him.
"After some fantastic detective work, we were finally able to match his face to his true identity and arrest him, and despite his attempts to go on the run and evade justice, he is now facing further time behind bars."
Keep up to date with the latest news in west London via the free getwestlondon app.
You can even set it to receive push notifications for all the breaking news in your area.