Woman convicted over TradeMe scams

By Kelli Hooks -
After the vehicle did not arrive the buyer had spoken to the defendant by phone. Photo / File / Thinkstock
After the vehicle did not arrive the buyer had spoken to the defendant by phone. Photo / File / Thinkstock

A Wairarapa woman who used TradeMe and forgery to swindle thousands of dollars has been convicted of fraud.

The woman, 40, who has interim name suppression to protect the identity of her young son, pleaded guilty in Masterton District Court on Thursday to three charges of obtaining by deception, $500 to $1000, and one charge of using forged documents.

A police summary of facts said that on January 11 the defendant sold a Ford Ka on TradeMe for $500. The winner had deposited the money into the defendant's bank account, along with a further $50 to cover costs of the defendant taking the car to him on an arranged day.

After the vehicle did not arrive the buyer had spoken to the defendant by phone.

She had said her stepbrother had been killed and she had had to attend the funeral. However, she had agreed to transfer the money back into the man's account.

After several days the money still had not been returned, and the man had contacted the defendant again and was given more excuses.

Text and phone conversations continued until February 3 when the defendant said she wanted to meet with the buyer to "discuss some things".

A meeting was arranged but the defendant had not shown up.

The victim had continued to organise the return of his money. He eventually received a text saying her father had agreed to pay the money back for her and she had passed on his cellphone number.

The man had spoken to someone posing as the defendant's father and agreed to meet on a pre-arranged day, but the person had not shown up.

Sixty-seven texts had gone back and forth until contact stopped altogether.

On January 18 another man saw an advertisement for a Ford Ka on Trade Me and paid the defendant $225 as a deposit.

The man was told the car would be delivered, however it did not arrive on the agreed day and he was unable to contact the defendant.

In January the defendant had terminated her tenancy agreement for a rental property. On February 14 she had forged the signature of her landlord to receive $1060, which was her bond.

Between June 7 and 14 the defendant had contacted several friends wanting to know if they wanted to buy some clothing.

Three women had deposited money totalling $740 in the defendant's bank account.

The items paid for did not arrive and the defendant had made numerous excuses when contacted.

Eventually the defendant met the victims and admitted to them it was a scam and the money had been spent.

Police are seeking reparation of $2305 to be returned to the victims.

Defence lawyer Frank Minehan encouraged Judge Tom Broadmore to seek a pre-sentence report and handed him a letter from the woman's doctor.

"There has never been a formal diagnosis from a psychiatrist," Mr Minehan said.

Judge Broadmore said the defendant had "been doing it [committing fraud] for years".

The woman was remanded on bail and will reappear for sentencing on September 16.

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