Preston romance fraudster gained women’s trust online and stole from their homes

A Preston man has been jailed for 'romance fraud' after stealing from the homes of vulnerable women who he targeted on online dating sites.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 9:41 am
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 10:22 am

Oliver Anthony Alexander, 44, persuaded the women to let him stay at their homes shortly after starting relationships with them online.

After gaining their trust he then betrayed them, leaving them feeling "guilty" and "naïve", police said.

Sergeant Craig Morgan, from Dyfed Powys Police, said: "This was a very unusual case, and one unlike typical reports of romance fraud, where victims never actually meet offenders in person.

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Oliver Anthony Alexander, 44, has been jailed for 12 months and has been handed restraining orders against two of his victims

"Rather than asking his victims to send money to a bank account, Alexander was actually charming his way into their homes through a series of lies, and taking the first opportunity he could to steal from them."

Alexander, who was found to have used a number of aliases, was jailed on July 22, just days after he was reported to police.

Officers were first made aware of his offences on Saturday, July 17, when a woman reported a theft from her home after meeting Alexander online.

She explained that after letting him stay at her home in Powys for a week, he left with a gold wedding ring and suit belonging to her late father, as well as a television set.

Later that day, a second woman turned up at a police station reporting that she too had allowed Alexander to move into her home.

But she had grown suspicious of his behaviour and had sought help from police after he refused to leave her home.

Two officers visited the home and searched Alexander's car, where they found the stolen suit and television reported missing by the first woman.

An iPad was also found, belonging to a woman who had allowed Alexander to stay with her two months previously.

Police also discovered a trove of love letters and numerous contact details for women.

An investigation established that Alexander, from Preston, had changed his name by deed poll from Oliver Alexander Davenport to Oliver Anthony Alexander, and that his original name was Joshua Jamie McKenna.

He was found to have a "vast offending history", including a conviction for a sexually aggravated assault.

Alexander was charged with two counts of theft the day after his arrest. He admitted the offences at Merthyr Magistrates’ Court, and was sentenced to 12 months in prison – six months for each offence.

He was also handed restraining orders against the two victims, lasting two years.

Sgt Morgan said: "Alexander is clearly a prolific offender who preys on vulnerable women by telling them a series of lies to make out he is someone he’s not.

"He has crossed police borders to commit offences and charmed his victims who trusted that they were in genuine relationships with him.

"I would like to thank the victims for their honestly and strength in reporting these offences, and hope the sentence offers some comfort."

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