Woman defrauded parents of £250,000 by pretending to be Oxford student

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A woman has been jailed for conning £250,000 out of her parents by pretending she was a student at Oxford University.

Nicola Boardman defrauded her parents for a quarter of a million pounds by convincing them she was a successful Oxford student, who needed money for her research projects and travel.

In reality the 34 year old was spending the money on holidays, drugs and a secret wedding (which she didn't invite her parents to).

I'll make millions if I complete a PhD in social sciences

Nicola told her parents that she would make millions of pounds if she completed her PhD in Social Sciences at Oxford, but needed cash to fund her research, and (purely fictional) trips to Greece and Mongolia.

Her father even retired early under the belief that earnings from her work, when she finally had her PhD, would help fund his retirement.

However, she was never actually a student at the University at all. She had even asked her parents, Marilyn and Frank, to take her to interviews at Oxford and Cambridge. These were fictional too.

Prosecutor Philip Lee said that Nicola told her parents she would eventually have a contract worth £3million:

“It transpired that everything she told them about Oxford and Cambridge was completely fabricated. There were no such interviews and no such scholarships.”

“Boardman completed a detailed schedule of expenses and her parents decided to sell their home after she presented fake draft sales contracts for her work worth £3million.”

"Spiralled out of control"

Boardman, who does have a first from a Cornish college in Social Sciences, was jailed for 40 months. The Truro Crown Court was told that Nicola had become addicted to heroin as a teenager, which she appeared to have kicked during her undergraduate degree.

However, between 2011 and 2015, she admitted she defrauded her parents out of £250,000, telling the police her addiction had "spiralled out of control" again and “words could not express” how sorry she was.

During these years she even lied to her parents that she had had a stillborn child and invited them to a “sham” ceremony where the ashes were scattered. She had actually terminated the pregnancy.

Forged emails

The parents continued to send her money to support her PhD, not knowing that she was spending the money to fund her lifestyle, rather than a social sciences PhD.

Her father, Frank, told the court:

“I personally have been deprived of my retirement that I have worked hard for, for the last 40 years.”

The money her parents gave her was spent on holidays, drugs and a £10,000 marriage in London to a man her parents hated.

Sentencing her to 40 months in jail, Mr Justice James Dingemans told her:

"You became addicted to heroin as a teenager and after the involvement of police and social services you underwent drugs rehabilitation and you attended an access to further education course."

“Then in September 2008 you started on a social sciences degree which you graduated from in 2011 with a first-class honours. From 2011 you started to deceive your parents. Your parents paid some £250,000 for your rental expenses, your cash, your holidays."

“You continued the deceit by pretending that you had been paid for the publication of an article in March 2011 and you persuaded them to pay for the private education of your daughter. You pretended to have 12 pieces of academic research and you forged emails. Your parents have been completely deceived.”

“This is another evidence-based example of the destruction caused to society by the use of drugs.”