What a C*ntab! – Fake vicar jailed after using bogus Cambridge degree to steal £90,000 from disabled charity

Counterfeit Oxbridge degrees for sale 24 March 2013

A TCS front page story from last term was brought sharply into focus today, following the news that a con artist who falsely claimed to be a Cambridge alumnus has been sentenced to five years in jail for fraud.

George Gordon, of Liverpool, used his fake qualifications, to get a job with the Merseyside Disability Federation (MDF).

He now faces five years imprisonment after using his position to steal £90,000 of charity funds meant for the disabled, vulnerable and mentally ill.

Gordon boasted about having degrees from Cambridge and the University of Wales, using his fake qualifications to gain the trust of charities and funding bodies. Having gained employment with the MDF, Gordon forged signatures to steal funding intended for victims of sexual abuse and sufferers of mental disorders. As well as claiming to be a Cambridge graduate and using a fake qualification purchased online, Gordon tried to garner sympathy by falsely claiming to be suffering from cancer and manic depression.

Judge Stephen Everett described Gordon as a “clever and fraudulent confidence trickster.” Everett previously turned down Gordon’s appeal for bail, remarking: “You are a professional conman and time has finally caught up with you.” In court, Gordon admitted to nine counts of obtaining money by deception and 11 counts of fraud.

Gordon is no stranger to the police. Despite being jailed for three years for theft in 1988, Gordon successfully cheated a number of charities between 1993 and 1998 while posing as different clergymen, including two female vicars. Gordon subsequently received a further four-year jail sentence. When his most recent scam was discovered Gordon went on the run, successfully evading the police for three years until, thanks to a nationwide appeal in 2011, he was finally tracked down in Durham.

Ruth Dean, a sufferer of bipolar disorder, was one of the victims of Gordon’s fraud: “It is amazing how much carnage one individual can wreak,” she told the Daily Mail, “but what is really horrifying is that a man with an extensive criminal CV was allowed to sit on a panel awarding European Social Fund money.” Dean explained that Gordon used his fake academic record to gain trust and influence: “The ‘Rev Dr’ is from a Canadian website. He has never, as he claims, held a ministry or been to Cambridge or Lampeter universities.” As previously reported in TCS (‘Counterfeit Oxbridge degrees for sale’, 14/02/2013), fake university degrees are still surprisingly easy to obtain. This is in spite of several recent high-profile court-cases, including that of David Fox in 2010, who was sentenced to three years in jail for selling fake Oxford and Open University degrees.

Trstram Fane Saunders

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