A con artist who tricked banks in a $1.8 million mortgage scam worked in the finance department of a company whose bosses had no idea of her convictions.

Nicole Margaret Jones is employed as a debt collector in the Auckland office of SmartPay Cadmus, a company that sells and operates Eftpos terminals and relies on its relationship with the banking sector.

She is employed as Nicole Collins, her married name.

This week, after the Herald on Sunday asked the company about her convictions, she was suspended.


Jones was used as a "mule" by master criminal Ronnie Van Wakeren, who was sent to prison for a string of frauds, including his part in stealing the Victoria Cross medals from the Waiouru War Memorial Museum.

Jones, a mother of five, was sentenced to prison for two years in December 2006 on a string of criminal charges that stemmed from her part in the banking fraud.

She used fake passports to trick banks and lawyers into thinking she was the genuine owner of a freehold home selected by Van Wakeren, taking out mortgages. Van Wakeren pulled in about $1.8 million using Jones and other "mules" to pose as owners.

Jones initially denied being the person who had featured in the Herald on Sunday investigation into Van Wakeren's mortgage frauds.

In a later call, she said she did not declare her convictions to her employer because "they didn't ask me". She said the convictions were irrelevant because she had done her time.

"People get second chances all the time. You can't drag things up after so long ... this is why so many people do crime again - because people like you push them down again."

Her mother, Margaret Jones, said her daughter was able to get the job through family members who worked for the company. "Nobody at her work knows anything about her background. It wasn't on any of the forms she filled in."

After learning of the convictions this week, Smartpay CEO Andrew Donaldson said Jones had been suspended with pay. He said she admitted the conviction after previously signing an employment agreement stating she had no convictions.


Donaldson said she had "done a great job for us". He said she would no longer be working in the finance department but it might be possible for her to work in another part of the company.

"We haven't given up on placing her somewhere else but we have to make the calls that are right for the business."