A lifetime of trickery and deceit to fund a "lavish lifestyle" finally caught up with an Auckland businessman with a predilection for fancy cars and lies.
Career con artist Stephan Grant Goodburn showed no favour to those he sucked into his rabbit hole of promises, get-rich-quick schemes and fake investments.
While some of his offending used false documentation to give credence to his lies, most were built on a repetition of false business dealings with people who trusted him.
He duped friends, one of whom was an Olympian, his partners, and even a judge in a bold and successful effort to receive a lighter court sentence.
Last Friday the 55-year-old was sent to prison for six years and two months after an investigation into his offending against five victims between 2005 and 2015.
In total he had acquired just under $1.4 million from them.
Sources tell the Herald much of Goodburn's professional life remains a mystery because of his web of lies, but investigations reveal Goodburn's offending dates back to the mid-1990s.
In May 1995, the Southport District Court on Queensland's Gold Coast sentenced him to a four-year prison term for misappropriation of property, false pretences and attempted
false pretences, forgery, uttering a forgery, theft, and what is described as making a
"wilful false promise".
He was then sentenced to cumulative terms of imprisonment in Australia in October 1995 and May 1996 for incurring a debt by false pretences, misappropriation of property and false pretences offences.
Upon release from prison Goodburn moved to New Zealand. He held business links to Australasian media and radio companies and was a group general manager at a New Zealand-based media enterprise.
He has also listed himself as the director and shareholder of Zeus Enterprizes Limited, Companies Office records show.
However, Zeus Enterprizes was only in operation for a little over a year after being registered in May 2010. It was dissolved in July 2011 with little trace of what services it had provided.
Goodburn was declared bankrupt in 2012.
During sentencing in the High Court in Auckland last week, Justice Matthew Downs said Goodburn's offending was "motivated by greed" and he defrauded his victims to fund a "lavish lifestyle".
Married with a young son, Goodburn had been living in a luxury apartment in the upmarket Auckland suburb of Parnell, while some of his past exploits have also included using a friend's credit card to defraud an "expensive hotel" of nearly $27,000, court documents show.
The Herald understands Goodburn bought a 2014 Citroen DS5 worth nearly $40,000 with the funds he stole from his Olympian friend.
The serial fraudster also has 17 previous convictions for deception in New Zealand, which all came between July 2011 and December 2012.
Much of the offending he was sentenced for last week came while he was on bail for two sets of further fraud charges. Both resulted in community work.
However, Goodburn duped the judge during his second sentencing to dodge prison by offering to pay almost $27,000 in reparation, including $9000 immediately.
"The judge thought you were making good for your wrongdoing, but you deceived the judge," Downs said in the High Court last Friday.
"You were using proceeds of crime to achieve a more lenient sentence . . . This is another example of particularly cynical and dishonest behaviour."
While it is unknown if Goodburn had more victims, police have encouraged those concerned or who believe they may be a victim of similar offending to contact police.
Goodburn's five victims: Mates, girlfriends and an Olympian
Goodburn met his first victim at a sports club in 2000, where he quickly developed a friendship with the Olympic athlete.
Court documents show the man came to Goodburn in 2008 with an investment proposal, but the fraudster offered an alternative.
The Herald understands the initial proposal was to invest in several St Heliers properties, but Goodburn said the money would be better suited going towards shares in a media company he had links with.
He told the athlete he could purchase shares and options at a reduced rate through his role as a "general manager of a media collective in New Zealand".
Acting in good faith, the athlete invested $190,000 in December 2008 and just days later paid a further $91,247.
Between December 2008 and November 2009 Goodburn again tried to defraud the Olympian. The athlete had, by this stage, given Goodburn a total of $456,727.
In August 2010 Goodburn returned $6000 to the victim, claiming he could not buy the full amount of shares and returned a further $10,000 later that year.
Suspicious, the Olympian began to ask questions about his investments, but Goodburn deflected the inquiry with more lies, telling the athlete in 2011 that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had begun an investigation due to insider trading.
"You told him the SFO would eventually pursue him. And he may go to prison. You told the victim you could keep the SFO at bay, but in return, he needed to financially support you and your family," Downs said.
"You said this was because the SFO had restrained your finances. In other words, you told
more lies, and in doing so, falsely represented the victim had committed crimes which could lead to his incarceration."
But Goodburn's offending continued, and between January 2012 and October 2015 the Olympian invested a further $225,133.
Eventually the Olympian went to the SFO in November 2015 "overwhelmed with stress", where he learned there was never an investigation and Goodburn had never purchased any shares.
"The first was your friend. He describes the impact of your offending as 'immense'. He feels 'violated'," Downs said.
Goodburn was also initially charged with blackmail, but the charge was dropped after a plea arrangement.
Victim two: Goodburn met the second victim in 2003 and two years later said he could buy the man a large number of shares in a company, court documents reveal.
The man took out a second mortgage on his home to invest $300,000 with Goodburn in 2006. Two years later the man asked Goodburn to sell the shares, but the con man said he had a gambling addiction and had spent every cent.
He agreed to repay his debt with interest, and in 2008 paid the man $60,000 - but the funds were from the Olympian's fake investments.
In total Goodburn stole $300,000 from the second victim.
In a victim impact statement, the man described what happened to him as "irreparable" financial damage and serious emotional harm.
Victim three: Goodburn's third victim formed a close relationship with him in early 2015, before he offered to sell her $30,000 in shares from $200,000 of recently bought shares.
She paid him in July 2015, which Goodburn promptly used to continue his lifestyle by purchasing a new car.
The third victim lost all the money and said she is now "embittered" and "no longer trusts others".
Victim four: In an almost identical scheme, Goodburn befriended his fourth victim at the end of 2009 and during the next six months told her he could purchase shares at a reduced rate.
She transferred him $10,000.
"As with the other victims, you obtained that money through a lie. There were
no shares," Downs said.
"You said you would repay her . . . You have not repaid this victim anything. All
of the money she gave you, you spent."
Victim five: Goodburn met his final victim in 2007 and started another close relationship.
By the end of 2010 he told her they should take things to "the next level", suggesting the pair buy a house together, and even claiming he'd found the couple a home in Parnell.
The woman gave Goodburn $40,000 in 2010 and later a further $7000 for the ghost home.
Brazenly, he then used the same trick for another fake house in Newmarket and a further $32,000.
The woman said she had moved to Auckland to be with Goodburn and felt "ashamed and stupid" for trusting him.
- The Herald cannot reveal the identities of the victims due to a court suppression order.
Goodburn: 'I wanted more than I had'
In a letter to the court, Goodburn said the "main reason" for his offending was that he "always wanted more".
But, despite his penchant for wealth, Goodburn "does not have a cent to [his] name", Downs said, adding reparation "is not realistic".
A pre-sentence report also shows Goodburn's "level of remorse is low" and he appeared "highly self-entitled" while lacking empathy for his victims.
Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Bridget Doell, of the Financial Crime Unit, said while police were pleased with Goodburn's sentence it would not make up for his victims' loss.
"This was a particularly concerning case due to the fact he built relationships and gained the total trust of his victims whilst completely betraying them," she said.
"My thoughts are, and continue to be, with the victims of his crimes. His actions have caused them a great deal of stress and hardship."