A Northland man convicted of New Zealand's biggest Trade Me fraud to date has been sentenced to five months' home detention.
Paul Matthew Barr, 47, was sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court after earlier pleading guilty to three charges of obtaining by deception.
The Kaitaia man had sold an e-commerce and web-hosting business to three different customers, netting him more than $70,000.
The fraudulent sales were not conducted via online auction but were advertised on Trade Me, much as a business for sale is advertised in a newspaper.
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Barr is suffering mental health problems and will return to Australia to be with family as soon as his sentence is completed.
Judge John MacDonald said the case showed that even if the means of buying and selling had changed, the old adage of "buyer beware" still applied.
The court heard Barr had advertised the business in February 2008, claiming 122 clients, maintenance contracts for about 20 websites, and a weekly turnover of $1200.
He sold the business to the first complainant for $22,500 and to a second for $22,000. Later that year he re-advertised the business, with some of the same clients and some new ones, and sold it for $30,000.
"You sold the same business essentially to three different people," the judge said. "Some of the items you were selling you didn't have, belonged to someone else or were totally fictitious."