One of the key players in an online betting scam, Englishman William Childe, has fled the country as four others will go on trial for alleged links to the fraud that netted nearly $900,000 from duped investors.
Childe left the country before he was charged, it has emerged after the sentencing of Brian Scandlyn in the Hamilton District Court yesterday for his part in the cyber scam.
The Herald has learned that another four Waikato men will appear in court next year over their alleged roles in the scheme.
They are Daniel Middleton, David Morgan, Glen Morgan and Phillip Telfer.
Yesterday Scandlyn, aged 30, received a sentence that included 12 months' home detention after pleading guilty to two charges of engaging in a money-laundering transaction.
The unemployed man had also admitted 11 charges of taking or using a document for pecuniary advantage.
Crown prosecutor Jess Tarrant said Scandlyn set up a company, known as Excel Trading, which was used to invest depositors' money in an online sports betting scheme in Australia.
The court had earlier heard how Scandlyn randomly called small businesses to tell them about the scheme, which was linked to a legitimate online Australian sports betting agency, called International All Sports.
The victims were lured by the guarantee of tax-free profits, but their money was instead withdrawn by Childe from a bank account almost as soon as their deposits went in.
Scandlyn set up bank accounts into which more than 200 investors poured $883,533.40 in a little over a year.
His lawyer, Len Caley, said his client had been reckless and naive but had been duped by Childe, who is believed to be back in the UK.
Scandlyn thought he was "doing a favour for a friend" when he was asked to set up the company he was a director of but he knew little of company law and never registered it with the Companies Office.
"He was not a front man other than by name only. He didn't telephone any victims and didn't do any work and was not involved with any of the soliciting," said Mr Caley.
"This is a man now left with the work of another. The prisoner's actions were naive and that's where the level of his culpability lies."
The court heard Westpac Bank closed the account that was receiving the deposits but Mr Childe asked Scandlyn to open another account with Kiwibank under his own name.
Judge Denise Clark said it was clear Scandlyn was being used by Childe.
"But your part in this allowed Mr Childe to carry out his fraudulent activities to an extent there are many people in the community who have lost out who gave their money to Mr Childe in good faith."
She took into account his early guilty plea and the fact that he had a shared custody arrangement of his young daughter.
Judge Clark sentenced him to 12 months' home detention and 180 hours of community work, and ordered him to pay $7643.21 to businesses to which he had given bad cheques. Police said it was unlikely that Childe would be extradited to face trial.