There are Oxford dons and then there are Oxford cons. Nicola Boardman, 34, was the latter after bilking her parents of more than £250,000 by convincing them she was a student at Oxford University. She continued to hit them up for money for research and travel that prosecutors allege was used for drugs, holidays and a secret wedding. Adding insult to injury, her parents, Frank and Marilyn, were not even invited to the wedding.
Boardman said that she was completing a potentially lucrative PhD in social sciences. The record suggests that Boardman became addicted to heroin as a teenager but was able to kick her habit and graduate from a Cornish college with a first-class social sciences degree. She was able to convince her parents that she was accepted into the PhD program and her father drove her to interviews as both Oxford and Cambridge — claiming to have won scholarships.
It is a heart-breaking story. One can understand how parents can be easy targets after believing that their daughter overcame earlier problems and was on a path of success. Even more gut-wrenching is that she convinced her father that he would be repaid and he retired early based on her false assurances that her published work would support him in retirement. There were false receipts and records and even a faked funeral for a stillborn child, including the scattering of ashes.
She admitted to all of the lies and pleaded guilty to one count of fraud. It is not clear how she was ultimately found out but her father filed a victim statement during sentencing that stated “I personally have been deprived of my retirement that I have worked hard for, for the last 40 years.”
It is chilling to read a record of such deceit of people who gave so much out of love for their child. The degree of emotional detachment needed for such a long history of lies and manipulation is enormous. She appears to have been captive to her addiction but one would have hoped that she would have a few moments of clarity where she could tell her parents the truth. As a parent, I cannot imagine the pain for her parents in not just being defrauded but to have one’s love and trust in a child abused in such a fashion.