To mark the Herald on Sunday's 15th anniversary, we have gone back to some of our biggest newsmakers to find out where they are now.

To enter the home of the master fraudster was to wonder at the excess afforded by his criminal genius.

Wayne Thomas Patterson lived in a terraced home in Massey in 2006, paying $230 a week rent for his two-bedroom flat.

From there, he executed the country's largest welfare fraud, stealing $3.2 million using 123 false identities - complete with disguises.

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Patterson was sentenced to eight years in prison for his offending. He was released in 2015, but not before having two years added to his sentence when he forged documents in a bid to help with a parole hearing.

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Back in 2006, before the public knew of his audacious scheme, Patterson was a quiet bachelor who lived alone in what appeared to be a modest suburban house.

Step inside, though, and there were signs of the wealth he had accumulated over the years he had developed his scam.

The wallpaper was opulent, the fittings exquisite. No expense had been spared on decorating, and the $54,000 in benefits illegally obtained each fortnight had paid for the latest in appliances and entertainment systems.

The small sitting room boasted a four-metre screen as part of an elaborate home cinema system, with large leather recliners arrayed before it. In the spare room, Patterson had bought top-quality exercise and weight lifting equipment.

Patterson's grand interior designs further disguised the fortune hidden inside the flat. He had hidden away behind walls, in disguised cubby holes, more than $1m in cash and gold bars. Also hidden were the false identities and more than 100 keys for Post Office boxes across the country.

There were also signs of his criminal enterprise in a small office area that hosted the equipment used to manufacture false identities.

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In Wayne Patterson's office, where he worked on the 123 false identities used in his fraud. Photo / File
In Wayne Patterson's office, where he worked on the 123 false identities used in his fraud. Photo / File

It didn't end there, with Patterson's love of plants turning a plain, handkerchief-sized garden space into a tropical wonderland.

Rare palms, marble seats and Easter Island-style garden statues were dotted around the heavily planted space. It was here investigators found $750,000 in notes, wrapped in plastic and buried for safety.

Patterson's fraud - which followed scams in the United States and Australia - saw the taxpayer recoup what had been stolen and even make money.

The fraudster invested the cash he had stolen in shares which, in the time it took to recover the money, had soared in value.

Patterson was released to live with his parents in Carterton. In 2016, he successfully appealed conditions around his release from prison which allowed him to access the internet.

Looking down into the tropical garden created at Wayne Patterson's home. Police found $750,000 buried amid the palms. Photo / File
Looking down into the tropical garden created at Wayne Patterson's home. Police found $750,000 buried amid the palms. Photo / File