Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Faked invoice schemer appeals against sentence

Sonia Klair used forged documents made in India in an attempt to convince businesses they had previously signed on for NZ Look's services. Photo / Thinkstock
Sonia Klair used forged documents made in India in an attempt to convince businesses they had previously signed on for NZ Look's services. Photo / Thinkstock

A woman who fleeced small businesses in a "sophisticated" fake invoicing scheme that used forged documents made in India has appealed against her sentence.

Sonia Klair, who is now living in Australia, in 2008 set up NZ Look, an internet-based directory where consumers could look up products and services.

During that year, the company began sending out documents that falsely told the recipient that they already had listings with NZ Look and invited them to sign on for another term.

The customers contacted were from a database that originally belonged to NBO, a similar business previously run by Klair and her then-husband.

From early 2010, Klair used forged documents made in India in an attempt to convince businesses they had previously signed on for NZ Look's services.

These documents copied over customers' signatures from NBO documents to NZ Look documents.

Klair would then send an invoice requesting payment for the listing to these "clients".

Many of those targeted were small businesses.

NZ Look, according to the summary of facts, had a turnover of more than $700,000 during its operation and ceased trading in 2010 after a potential legal action from Yellow Pages.

The Commerce Commission - which had previously received complaints about NBO - laid a raft of charges against Klair.

Read more
* Home detention for $700k fake invoice scam

She pleaded guilty to 64 of them, including for dishonesty using a document.

Judge Chris Field, when sentencing Klair last September, called her offending a "sophisticated scheme" that involved pre-mediation and caused losses to victims of $1747. Judge Field sentenced Klair to 10 months' home detention.

Klair served six weeks of that and was then released on bail pending her appeal to the High Court.

Her lawyer, Ron Mansfield, argued in that appeal yesterday that his client's sentence was manifestly excessive. While involving planning, Mansfield said the scheme was only "moderately sophisticated".

The Commerce Commission's lawyer, Alysha McClintock, opposed the appeal and said Klair's offending went "significantly beyond" what would normally be seen in a pro-forma invoicing case.

Justice Ailsa Duffy reserved her decision and extended Klair's bail.

See the original sentencing notes for Klair here:

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 26 Oct 2014 08:00:12 Processing Time: 366ms