Mother guilty of 16 charges after identity theft

By COREY CHARLTON


A Hawke's Bay mother went to extreme lengths in her attempts to access another person's IRD and banking details in a brazen case of identity fraud.

Chanelle Betty Sandilands, 30, appeared in Napier District Court yesterday facing more than 20 charges relating to attempts to open fake telephone and Trade Me accounts, gathering other people's personal IRD information, trying to access their bank account and using someone else's credit card.

Four charges were dropped by police but she entered guilty pleas to the rest, split into two categories of obtaining by deception and using a document for pecuniary advantage.

On March 26 she opened a Telecom account using someone else's details. Two months and four days later, the account was closed with $1529 of outstanding charges. When opened, she had also ordered a $99 internet modem, which was delivered to her home address where she signed for it under the fake identity.

In early April she then ordered an iPhone for $779, and requested it be charged to the fraudulent account.

On April 23 she turned her sights to the IRD. By ringing the Wellington call centre with the details of the person whose identity she was using, she was able to gather the person's IRD number, personal tax summary and summary of earnings.

She also completed the voice-activated identity enrolment process, with the assistance of the IRD operator. Attempts were made to request the banking details the IRD held for the account, then to update the account with new banking details. These were both unsuccessful.

Further charges stemmed from contacting Westpac Bank multiple times to obtain the online banking details of the person's bank account. None of these attempts were successful either and each time she was told to visit her nearest branch.

In June the offending took a twist when she set up a joint Trade Me account under the fictitious names of Ashley Hill and Ashley Koorey. She used a second victim's stolen credit card details to try and buy clothes, makeup, and other accessories over the website but none of these attempts were successful.

The victim of Sandiland's initial offending spoke to Hawke's Bay Today in May about how she was surprised when her bank called, asking why she was so desperate to change her phone banking passwords. She said the attempts to access her personal details made her feel threatened.

"I feel quite vulnerable because I'm not sure if someone has been watching the house or stealing my mail," she said. "What else do they know about me? There is a fine line between what they have [and other personal information]. I just don't feel that safe anymore. I'm boring and not exactly wealthy so for someone to target me is quite strange."

She declined to comment yesterday.

Sandilands was remanded in custody for sentencing on January 22.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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