No jail for exploiting low income families

By Brendan Manning

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A woman who admitted exploiting low income families trying to obtain mortgages has been sentenced to home detention.

Ramni Kumar, 46, pleaded guilty to 10 charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) when she appeared at the Auckland District Court in January.

At the same court today, Judge Russell Collins sentenced Kumar to 12 months' home detention and 250 hours' community work.

She had admitted using false documentation to obtain mortgage finance for low income families who would not otherwise have been able to obtain finance.

Kumar and her co-accused, Vicki Ravana Letele, 32, faced 10 joint charges under Section 228 of the Crimes Act for dishonestly using a document.

The charges related to 10 property transactions undertaken during the second half of 2010. The total value of the fraud was $3.9 million.

Kumar benefited by arranging for her, and allegedly, Ms Letele's, contacts to make the initial purchase of the properties which were then on-sold to the mortgage recipients for a profit.

Following Kumar's earlier guilty plea, SFO director Julie Read said the office was concerned about the potential for more incidents of mortgage fraud in the current market.

"A market with high demand for properties and rapidly rising prices creates opportunities for individuals to exploit vulnerable buyers.

"Lenders and buyers need to be alert to this risk," she said.

Letele has pleaded not guilty and is due to in court for a two-week trial in August.

- APNZ

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