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SussexPolice search for little grey-haired ‘swindler’
A “little grey-haired lady” is being sought by police over claims she pretended to have cancer to swindle people out of thousands of pounds.
Police are looking for Jo Oliver, 56, who allegedly duped her victims out of thousands of pounds each before vanishing from her home in Sussex.
She reportedly dumped a Land Rover she borrowed in London and has not been seen since.
Oliver was jailed in 2009 for making £100,000 with similar ruses and has a history of frauds going back to 1976.
While in prison, she met Jane Andrews, a former dresser to the Duchess of York, who was jailed for life in 2001 for murdering her lover.
After Oliver was released, she moved into a house owned by Andrews in Angmering, near Littlehampton.
Lifts to hospital
The next-door neighbours’ daughter, bride-to-be Zoe Peacock, 21, says she lent Oliver £3,000 which she was saving for her wedding.
She believed Oliver needed private cancer treatment and even gave her lifts to hospital.
After she vanished, Zoe was forced to use credit cards and beg money from her family to cover the cost of her big day.
She said: “It is meant to be the happiest day of my life but I have spent the last two weeks constantly in floods of tears. I can’t believe that she has done this so me.
“We were such close friends. I even made her godmother to my little boy.”
Theme park owner Kevin McCluskey, 51, claims he loaned Oliver £3,000 to finance her purchase of a vet’s surgery. He said his fiancée also handed over £1,800 to buy a horse that never appeared.
The father-of-three, from Lancing, West Sussex, said: “She’s a little, grey-haired lady, very softly spoken who tells you she’s dying of cancer. It was all very convincing.”
Stephanie Price, 37, gave Oliver stabling for a pony and paid £500 as a deposit for a police horse box Oliver said she could get.
She said Oliver went missing when the box never arrived and she was threatened with the police.
Another alleged victim, Sarah Whitlaw, said: “She offered to buy my Land Rover and I gave it to her on the basis she paid me £3,500 for it.
"But every time I asked for the money she would make up an excuse. It ended up with her telling me she had terminal cancer and was unwell.
“The next thing I know, she has done a moonlight flit with my Land Rover and even tried to sell it to one of my friends for £700.”
The Land Rover was later found at a garage in Dagenham, east London, without its logboook.
Last Friday (October 22) officers smashed down the front door of Andrews’s terraced home at Angmering and searched for clues to the whereabouts of Oliver.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Sussex Police are seeking a woman they want to interview about several allegations of fraud and theft of a car.
“The 56-year old woman was last seen at a house where she had been living in Angmering, on October 1.
“Police were first contacted the following day, and are investigating allegations including that a local woman has recently been defrauded of £3,000, and that another local man has been defrauded of £6,500. It has also been reported that a car loaned to the woman was not returned.
“It has since been found at a garage in East London.
“The woman’s details have been circulated to all police forces, and enquiries are being made to trace her.
“Further details are not being disclosed at this stage while further enquiries are being carried out.”
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