A Whangārei woman who scammed New Zealanders of thousands of dollars by using fake Facebook accounts and offering non-existent concert tickets has appealed her two-year jail sentence claiming it was "manifestly excessive".
However, Justice Timothy Brewer said the end sentence of two years jail was well within the range available and there needed to be a sentence which emphasised deterrence and denunciation, and dismissed the appeal.
Lulu Pou pleaded guilty to 24 charges of accessing a computer system and thereby by deception and without claim of right, obtained a pecuniary advantage and was sentenced to two years jail by Judge John McDonald.
The scam operated between July 5, 2018, and March 21, 2019 and during that time Pou collected $6474 for fake tickets to concerts including Six60, One Love, Touchbase, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Homegrown and Listen In. Each charge has a maximum penalty of seven years jail.
But what was revealed at sentencing was that Pou was sentenced for exactly the same scam on 49 charges of obtaining by deception on October 5, 2018.
The previous scam took place between August 2017 and June 2018, and $16,870 was gained by Pou. For that she was sentenced to four months home detention followed by six months post-detention conditions.
Justice Brewer heard the appeal and noted the offending on which Judge McDonald sentenced Pou commenced while she was awaiting sentence on the previous offending. During sentencing Judge McDonald said Pou's offending was sophisticated.
"You very cleverly used fictitious Facebook names, you very cleverly used other people's bank accounts that the money was to be paid into."
Judge McDonald also read out some of the victim impact statements which highlighted the significant effect the fraud had on a number of the victims.
One victim said: "Emotionally and financially, this really affected my son and I. This was the first show he was going to go to and the first time away since a major car accident and he is suffering brain injuries, so he found it extremely hard to cope. We have spent endless hours trying to get this sorted and had to borrow money for the tickets."
Another said: "I'm a solo mum, I had to save up money to attend the Homegrown concert. I'm very frustrated and angry to find out it was a scam. I have now completely lost my trust in online purchases."
In his decision Justice Brewer said, having considered other cases, sentencing for computer related offences was likely to require particular emphasis on the need to hold an offender accountable for harm done to both victims and the community by his or her offending, to denounce the conduct in which the offender was involved and to deter the offender or others from committing similar offences in the future.
"Bearing in mind the aggravating factors identified by the Judge, and having broad regard to the cases to which I have been referred, I conclude that the two years starting point was within the range available," Justice Brewer said.
"The timeliness of the entry of pleas of guilty is not the only factor to be taken into account in assessing the discount. Another factor is the strength of the evidence. Here it was strong."