Scam 'disgraceful'

By Don Farmer, don.farmer@age.co.nz


An elderly Featherston fraud victim has spoken out about the hurt she feels after a woman she saw as a long-time friend betrayed her, using her name to dishonestly obtain more than $10,000.

Fay Cameron, 69, wept as she spoke about how Lara Dawn Johnson had used her details to run up debts.

Johnson, 37, a former fish and chip shop owner, who more recently described herself as a caregiver, stole Ms Cameron's credit identification details and obtained $2759 credit in Ms Cameron's name, and an $8000 loan from a finance company.

Johnson appeared for sentence in Masterton District Court on Thursday, having earlier admitted a charge of obtaining money by deception and using a document for pecuniary advantage.

Judge Tom Broadmore, who described Johnson's actions as "a disgraceful piece of work", refused name suppression and sentenced her to 100 hours' community work and six months' supervision.

He also ordered Johnson to repay $10,759 to Pioneer Finance and Kiwibank by instalments.

In mitigation, defence solicitor Frank Minehan said Johnson had a cannabis habit for which she needed counselling, and may have herself been a victim of fraud through a Malaysian computer scam.

Ms Cameron, who when younger was a caregiver in a Presbyterian children's home, said yesterday she knew Johnson for years and had welcomed her into her home.

She had looked upon Johnson as a trusted friend but now realised she had been betrayed.

" I used to visit her place and play with her cats and dogs, and she came to my home, sometimes staying overnight," Ms Cameron said. "It is still hurting."

She said at times she still missed Johnson's friendship and had recently seen her on the street.

Judge Broadmore said Johnson's crimes had been a premeditated and mean-spirited betrayal of a older woman. The only saving grace was that Ms Cameron herself would not end up suffering a financial loss.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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