Former detective Mark Smith and, inset, conman Christopher Woods.
Former detective Mark Smith and, inset, conman Christopher Woods.

How conman ‘jockey’ took punters for a multimillion-dollar ride

One of Sydney's most colourful conman is back in town after being released from an American jail where he served four years for a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme.

Christopher Woods lived the life of a millionaire, mostly on other people's money, claiming to be one of the world's top jockeys.

 

Christopher Woods was able to scam millions of dollars posing as a champion jockey. File picture
Christopher Woods was able to scam millions of dollars posing as a champion jockey. File picture

 

In reality, the boy from a Maroubra housing commission estate was a Randwick stablehand for a short time, but was able to convince people he was a Melbourne Cup-winning rider.

He ripped off punters by saying he could give them a sure thing at the races because he was in on the "fix''.

"He has probably gone through $20 or $30 million of others people's money," retired Detective Inspector Mark Smith told True Crime Australia's Police Tape podcast.

"I've known him probably 30 or more years."

 

Woods liked to live a life of luxury — on other people’s money. File picture
Woods liked to live a life of luxury — on other people’s money. File picture

 

His favourite story is when Woods found himself in strife for giving some big time punters in Sydney the wrong information on some horses.

He spent the next three days being chauffeur-driven around the city in a gold Rolls-Royce, but unfortunately for him he was tied up in the boot, and the chauffeurs were Sydney criminals Adrian Kay and "Bob the Basher" Rakich.

Every so often Rakich would drag Woods out of the boot, give him a belting and then stuff him back in the boot of the Roller.

"It was a colourful time,'' Smith said.

 

Adrian Kay was gunned down at his Kings Cross hotel in 1986.
Adrian Kay was gunned down at his Kings Cross hotel in 1986.

 

While Woods is still alive, Rakich and Kay were not so lucky. Rakich died when he crashed a Ferrari in the eastern suburbs in 1986. Later that year, Kay was shot dead at his Kings Cross hotel, King Arthur's Court.

 

Former detective Mark Smith at the recording of Police Tape. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts
Former detective Mark Smith at the recording of Police Tape. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts

 

Smith said Woods loved the high life. When in America he lived in the best hotels and put everything on his black American Express card.

"He would get on a plane and would turn left - never right - into first class. It's the only way he flew.''

Smith once spoke to the con artist about his lifestyle and asked what he would do if he was down to his last $10.

"I wouldn't bother with food, I'd probably just go get a tan," was the answer. "He was a narcissist," said Smith.

In 2012, Woods, then 53, was sentenced to four years in a federal prison in California and ordered to repay more than $3 million for his part in a mortgage fraud scheme, but he is now back in Australia.

Smith said he saw him recently on a bus in Sydney's eastern suburbs. "I couldn't be bothered talking to him. He was a parasite who lived off other people."

Police at the crime scene where Kay was shot dead. File pictures
Police at the crime scene where Kay was shot dead. File pictures