The 21 defendants seated in the back of the High Court at Hamilton yesterday came from all walks of life.

Polished shoes attached to expensive suits mixed with garish ties and shirts straight from a chain-store catalogue.

The defendants - lawyers, accountants and managers among them - have been charged as a result of the aptly named police Operation Allsorts, one of the country's biggest fraud investigations, over two years and covering North and South Islands.

It is alleged the 21 accused defrauded individuals of nearly $10 million through property deals in which some people lost their homes.

The depositions hearing that started yesterday will decide if the defendants should stand trial on the 337 fraud-related charges they face between them.

Police say the 21 targeted those whose equity was tied up in their homes, had little or no income and were under financial pressure.

It is alleged the victims, unable to raise funds from first-tier lenders such as trading banks, went to mortgage brokers among the group who then allegedly tricked them into signing sale and purchase agreements for their property.

Funds were raised but police allege none of the funds were credited to anyone other than group members.

Detectives preparing for the marathon hearing, set down for nine weeks, wheeled into the court 15 boxes of documents, the evidence from 73 prosecution witnesses.

Before community magistrates Rae Brooker and Pat Ferguson, just one defendant, Wayne Gilbert Sealey, a 52-year-old farm manager from Oamaru, pleaded guilty to taking part in an organised criminal group. He will be sentenced on June 16.

Seven others also face the charge of taking part in an organised criminal group - a charge normally reserved by police for gangs.

By the end of yesterday, seven defendants had yet to enter pleas or concede a prima facie case.

The accused who pleaded not guilty and conceded prima facie cases:

Arden Eric Fatu, 42, Motueka, 62 charges.

Miles John McKelvy, 47, Hamilton, 112 charges.

Heather Ann Jacobs, 44, Hamilton, 10 charges.

Stuart David Jecks, 49, Cambridge, 10 charges.

Margaret Elizabeth Carran, 56, Hamilton, 11 charges.

John Kenneth Slavich, 51, Hamilton, 12 charges.

Carol Elizabeth Fleming, 61, Tauranga, 3 charges.

Malcolm David Mulligan, 48, Morrinsville, 6 charges.

Craig Garry Dawick, 39, Hamilton, 3 charges.

Kevin Paul Stephens, 42, Tauranga, 2 charges.

Michael Thomas George Perry, 34, Palmerston North, 16 charges.

Graham Charles Fisher, 47, Blenheim, 2 charges.

Tobias James Lloyd Muir, 26, Hamilton, 1 charge.

Wayne Gilbert Sealey, 52, Oamaru, pleaded guilty to one charge of participating in an organised criminal group.

The accused who entered no pleas and have not conceded prima facie cases:Robert William Stirling, 52, Katikati, 27 charges.

Robert John Warburton, 54, Auckland, 12 charges.

John Fong, 63, Hamilton, 4 charges.

Wayne John Steiner-Simpson, 62, Otahuhu, 8 charges.

Stephen Clifford Buckland, 29, Hawera, 2 charges.

Two other men have their names and details suppressed, one facing 8 charges, the other 25.