Copycat conman disguised as pilot to defraud Manchester landlord

Copycat conman disguised as pilot to defraud Manchester landlord


A copycat conman who defrauded Manchester landlords out of thousands of pounds has been jailed for three years and 11 months.  

Alexander Da Silva, 29, swindled the owners of luxury apartments, including one in the Great Northern Tower building in the city’s centre and another in The Grand building on Aytoun Street, by using false identity documents.


Mr Da Silver modelled his conman style on that of the central character in the film Catch Me If You Can starring Leonardo DiCaprio. As reported by the Manchester Evening News, his copycat activity saw him dress up as an airline pilot and boast of working for an airline – much like Frank Abignale Jr does in the 2002 blockbuster.


In an elaborate scam that amounted to £20,000 of dishonest money, Mr Da Silva, with help from his Brazilian boyfriend Jean Campos, admitted possessing articles for use in frauds, and 11 counts of fraud. He has been sentenced to three years and 11 months.


Campos admitted two counts of possessing a false identity document with intent, possessing articles for use in frauds, and two counts of fraud, and was jailed for 10 months.


The copycat crime is the second in the last three months to draw inspiration from the Steven Spielberg’s film.

It comes after 19-year-old James Cameron was convicted for fraud

after modelling himself on the blockbuster hit and totalling crimes worth £250,000. However, whereas Mr Cameron walked free, Mr Da Silva has been given a sentence almost four years long.


Using forged references and multiple passports, one of which carried the name Romeo DiCaprio, Mr Da Silva rented luxury apartments but wouldn’t pay the rent. By October 2009 the couple owed nearly four thousand pounds in unpaid rent, and were responsible for 21 different bank accounts used to pass cheques and facilitate fraud.


In Manchester Crown Court, prosecuting, Christopher Gutteridge said: “Prosecuting authorities considered whether Mr Da Silva had taken some inspiration from the film Catch Me If You Can, where the central character, played by Leonardo DiCaprio is a confidence trickster.”


According to evidence submitted at trial, Mr Sa Silva was seen walking around the buildings dressed in a pilot suit and used the pilot alias to obtain money from a payday advance service.


It also emerged that the couple would steal other residents’ mail and that Mr Campos used a false identity to open a bank account with Barclays Bank where he ran up an overdraft of £2,025.


Sentencing the pair, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC, the Recorder of Manchester, said of Da Silva: “Despite the grandiose names he gave himself and fancying himself as Leonardo DiCaprio he’s actually a small-time conman.”

Leave a comment