A former police officer is warning Aucklanders to "steer clear" of a conman who has emerged from prison - apparently with his talent for lying intact.
Convicted fraudster Wayne Jury Eaglesome was released from prison in July after the Parole Board, in an unusual step, made him serve the entirety of his three-year sentence for fraud.
The board denied Eaglesome's repeated applications for early release after a psychologist's report described him as a narcissist and "prolific high-risk confidence man" and noted that his colourful past included a criminal history that stretched to nine pages, and that he had more than 20 known aliases.
Eaglesome told the Parole Board he intended either to enrol at university to study for a laws or arts degree or to work as a bricklayer.
But within weeks of his release on July 6, it appears he had rebranded himself as "Alex Newman", an apparently wealthy businessman claiming advanced degrees from Oxford and Harvard and seeking "investment opportunities".
Using this new identity - complete with an elaborate social media cover - it seems he secured invitations to New Zealand Fashion Week shows in August, when he rubbed shoulders with New Zealand rugby sevens stars DJ Forbes and Scott Curry.
The Weekend Herald was unable to confirm any of "Newman's" online LinkedIn profile.
Harvard and Oxford universities, where he'd claimed degrees in law and art history respectively, said they had no record of Eaglesome or "Newman".
His claims to have worked as chief counsel for the global luxury brand Tom Ford, and to be a long-running member of the New York State Bar Association, met similar denials from the organisations involved.
Keith Shipston, a former senior constable at the South Island township of Cheviot, was the arresting officer in 2003 when Eaglesome was pulled over in a taxi wearing the robes of a priest and carrying a stolen credit card.
"He cut a dashing figure in those vestments, and he'd convinced all these people he was a priest," Mr Shipston said.
This guise as "Father Antony Garibaldi" was another of Eaglesome's aliases, and apparently even worked for a time on the then Assistant Anglican Bishop of Auckland, Richard Randerson.
Eaglesome had obtained the attire after a local church believed his claims to be a travelling priest whose luggage had been lost.
During his fraudulent cross-country tour in 2003, he racked up $2000 in hotel bills in Auckland as "Ari Ben Yitzhak" and stole cellphones in Queenstown while pretending to be "Doctor Angus Harrow".
According to coverage in the Christchurch Press of his sentencing, Eaglesome was given two years in prison for 23 charges including theft, burglary, fraud using a document and false pretences.
This sentence was followed by another, this time for three years in prison, in 2012 for similar charges, including forging cheques, theft, using documents for pecuniary gain, dishonestly using a computer and obstructing justice.
This more recent crimewave was mostly undertaken using the alias "Alexander De Villiers", a character known around Auckland's party scene for his lavish spending on champagne.
Mr Shipston, now retired from the police, said he was not surprised Eaglesome appeared to be still using false names and identities.
For his part, Eaglesome denied he had done anything wrong: "No one's been hurt by anything. I haven't done anything illegal," he said.
Tortuous road to unmasking of 'Alex Newman'
The road to unmasking "Alex Newman" as yet another mask of Wayne Eaglesome was tortuous.
"Newman" first told the Weekend Herald he was unable to meet for an interview as he had been admitted to Auckland City Hospital with a chest infection, but was happy to elaborate on his claimed activities over the phone.
He said he had been living a life of luxury in New York and Europe but had returned to New Zealand to pursue investment opportunities. "Three months ago I was in Monaco, sunning myself on a yacht, thinking that this was the life," he said.
The Parole Board said he had been in prison three months ago.
"Newman" also claimed to have recently developed and sold a mobile application to the United States Air Force, but was unable to disclose any details as he was bound by confidentiality tied to "national security issues".
He also claimed to be the managing director of a business called Longwater Holdings - which recently set up a website featuring "Newman's" cellphone number as the main point of contact - which sought to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in local enterprises. "We are also looking at companies that are going to assist young New Zealanders into their first home." He said Longwater was a partnership with "Isaac Wildenstein", a man he claimed he'd met while studying at Harvard.
Later, pressed on his previous identities and convictions and told the hospital denied having admitted anyone called Alex Newman, he at first said he was not Eaglesome.
Shortly afterwards a "Tom Wiles" called the Herald newsroom, with a suspiciously similar English accent to Eaglesome, insisting "Newman" suffered mental health issues and was unreliable and would pursue legal action if a story was written about him.
After failing to answer numerous calls, he was told by email that former cop Keith Shipston had viewed social media photographs of "Newman" and confirmed he was the same person as Eaglesome.
"There is someone called Isaac Wildenstein, but they'd probably be surprised to hear we were in business," he said of Longwater.
He admitted he'd never been to Harvard and his tales of sunning himself in Monaco and having money to invest were just attempts to bolster his "Newman" identity.
It was meant to protect him from underworld figures ("the Killer Beez" and "the Asians", he said) who sought to harm him.
Despite claiming on various websites to be a lawyer, a liquidator, or an occupational safety and health expert, Eaglesome said the listings were not serious.