John Clifton Davies, a 60-year-old con man from the United Kingdom who fled the country in 2015 before being sentenced to 12 years in prison for fraud, has enjoyed a successful life abroad swindling technology startups by pretending to be a billionaire investor. Davies’ newest invention appears to be “CodesToYou,” which purports to be a “full cycle software development company” based in the U.K.
September featured two stories on a phony tech investor named John Bernard, a pseudonym used by a convicted thief named John Clifton Davies who’s fleeced dozens of technology companies out of an estimated $30 million with the promise of lucrative investments. Those stories prompted a flood of tips from Davies’ victims that paint a much clearer picture of this serial con man and his cohorts, including allegations of hacking, smuggling, bank fraud and murder.
Most of us automatically put our guard up when someone we don’t know promises something too good to be true. But when the too-good-to-be-true thing starts as our idea, sometimes that instinct fails to kick in. Here’s the story of how companies searching for investors to believe in their ideas can run into trouble.