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'Jack of all trades' befriended then frauded investors

Crime & Courts
Port Elizabeth – A so-called 'jack of all trades' who conned Nelson Mandela Bay residents out of their hard-earned cash was found guilty of 18 counts of fraud involving close on R1.7 million.

Jason Wood, 40, was convicted in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday. He was also found guilty of failing to keep accounting records for his business.

Wood was acquitted of the theft of an aluminium boat frame valued at R2 800 and was also acquitted on charges of failing to make out annual financial statements.

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A man who conned Nelson Mandela Bay residents out of their hard-earned cash was found guilty of 18 counts of fraud involving close on R1.7 million. File picture: Independent Media

Between 2010 and 2012, Wood, defrauded at least 14 investors through a string of fraudulent schemes.

These included trading in second-hand cars, exotic animal skins and an upholstery business.

His modus operandi involved befriending people within a short space of time and promising to repay them the money he received from them plus additional money.

Wood used his close corporation, Woodies Upholsterers, as a front and wooed unsuspecting investors, subsequently duping them out of hundreds of thousands of rands.

Magistrate Hannes Claassen said that Wood's inability to repay the complainants was "fed by his gambling addiction".

"The complainants were not friends with each other but they all told the same stories, that makes it improbable that they made up these stories."

Claassen said that he did not attach much weight to Wood's version of events in that he denied gambling away people's money claiming he was a "rehabilitated gambler".

Claassen said that "this was a classic example of stealing from peter to pay paul" and in the process "feeding his gambling addiction".

This is not the first time Wood has had a run in with the law. He has two previous convictions for fraud and theft dating back to 2005 and 2009, for which he received suspended sentences.

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