Jailed for duping trusting couple

By Corey Charlton

A woman pretended to be an extremely "helpful" courier company employee when cold-calling a Havelock North couple and successfully duping them into giving out their credit card details.

She then attempted to spend more than $6000 of their money in a single day.

Chanelle Betty Sandilands, 30, was jailed for 21 months yesterday for the attempted spending spree with the couple's credit card and for numerous charges relating to an identity fraud.

Sandilands changed her name to Chanelle Paris Harland several years ago but was prosecuted under her original name.

When caught by police trying to collect a $2128 50-inch TV from Harvey Norman on June 16 last year, she claimed she had taken in a lodger named Ashley Hill, who along with her boyfriend, had supposedly assaulted and handcuffed Sandilands to her bed and asked her to collect the television.

Ashley Hill was the fictitious name Sandilands had used to order the TV and a $2498 fridge using the couple's credit card details, as well as the name under which a Trade Me account was set up and used, unsuccessfully, to make almost $1900 worth of purchases.

The wife of Sandilands' credit card victim, who did not want to be named, told Hawke's Bay Today Sandilands came across as extremely helpful when she rang them pretending to be from a courier company asking for her husband's card details.

"She said that she had a parcel [from] a courier company and they'd been up the day before but there was nobody home," she said. "She just wanted his credit card number so she could verify it. So of course he gave it to her."

It was the same day that their bank "sprang into action" when it realised something was amiss.

All the transactions were cancelled before the credit was permanently deducted from their account.

"She'd already bought a fridge and something else and done a lot of Trade Me transactions as well, so it would have been getting into $6000 had we not found out.

"We were lucky, very lucky. Great lesson learnt.

"I can see how they prey on older people too, because I suppose we're not as worldly wise."

The Havelock North couple were not Sandilands' only victim. Another woman was subject to an apparent identity fraud.

On March 26 Sandilands opened a Telecom account using the woman's details. The account was later closed with $1529 of outstanding charges.

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

On April 23, with a phone call to the IRD, she was able to gather the woman's IRD number, personal tax summary and summary of earnings.

At Napier District Court yesterday Judge Charles Blackie told Sandilands: "You knew it was fraud, because you had perpetrated so many similar type frauds in the past - just a way of life for you, to rip off other people."

He described a pre-sentence report as "interesting". It showed she was "almost proud of what you were doing, in the way that you were able to mislead people and the way you were able to con people".

He sentenced Sandilands to 21 months' imprisonment with release conditions.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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