When a Trade Me fraudster was caught, she tried to make money to repay her victims by committing more frauds on Facebook.
Harriet Heather Anne Dale, 24, committed another $5000 worth of frauds before she was caught again, and she now faces a total reparation bill of more than $20,000.
Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders’ assessment was that Dale was “living in La-La Land”, but he granted her a seven-month home detention term in place of a jail sentence.
He noted she had a five-year-old son who was cared for by her parents because she had been unable to cope, and she was again pregnant, and facing a sizeable reparations bill.
She had admitted 29 charges of causing loss by deception, and obtaining money by deception relating to online sales that were paid for but the goods were never sent.
Dale has been diagnosed as having a borderline personality disorder and is undergoing treatment.
She will shortly move to the Manawatu with her partner to begin her home detention sentence, at a house where she is forbidden to have Internet access, must not use alcohol or illicit drugs, and must undergo any treatment or counselling that her probation officer orders.
She will have to pay money back to her victims at $40 a week. The judge ordered her to read the victim impact statements after the sentencing, to understand the emotional harm she had caused with the loss of so many people’s savings.
Defence counsel David Stringer described Dale’s mental condition in court as much like a split personality.
He said she did not realise until afterwards that she had committed the second round of offending. She explained: “I looked online and there were all these messages from all these people I didn’t know and I knew I must have done it again.”
When police asked what she had been trying to achieve, she told them: “I didn’t understand how I could be so stupid.”
She had apparently tried to make money to pay back her first lot of victims, Mr Stringer said.
Judge Saunders said she had used money she obtained to buy gifts for her son, and household items.
In granting home detention, the judge took into account her previously clean record, her mental health issues, and her offer to pay reparations.