A member of a ring of scammers has admitted cleaning $20,000 out of the bank account of a 94-year-old woman after getting her bank card.
Henry Edward Halliday, also known as Henry Edward Taylor-Halliday and Samuel Edward Taylor, 26, has admitted three charges of dishonestly using bank cards.
Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders remanded him in custody for sentencing on May 27. He asked for a pre-sentence report, an assessment of his suitability for home detention, and a report on his ability to pay back the money.
Although he has been remanded in custody, Halliday has a hearing to consider his release on electronically monitored bail scheduled for April 7.
Halliday – allegedly accompanied by a co-offender – took $20,000 from the 94-year-old woman’s account in 60 transactions from January 31 to February 1, and $14,000 from another woman’s account a few days earlier.
He also admitted getting more than $2000 through eft-pos transactions and cash machine withdrawals using the bank card of an 80-year-old Christchurch woman.
He said he had obtained the bank cards from an associate.
The 94-year-old woman, who lives alone, told the police she was disgusted with herself for not realising what was going on. The scammers had taken all of her savings and she did not know if she would get any of it back. It would also impact on her family.
“I’ll be a lot more wary of anyone coming to my door from now on and I definitely won’t let them in,” she said. “I haven’t been sleeping very well because I keep going over everything in my mind.”
Police prosecutor Sergeant Dave Murray said that since September 2015, a group of offenders operating in the Christchurch area had targeted elderly women living on their own.
Someone would telephone a victim to say there was a problem with their power or telephone account and they owed money. They would threaten to cut off their power or telephone.
The caller would talk the victim into providing their PIN number for their bank card, and would say someone would come around to pick up their card.
Sometimes, he would keep the victim on the line while he pretended to make contact with the bank to organise for the card to be collected.
A woman would then arrive at the victim’s address, pick up the bank card, confirming the PIN number and providing the victim with a pressie gift card.
“Within a 12-hour period the money is systematically withdrawn from the victim’s account,” said Sergeant Murray.
Five people have been charged with offences relating to the scam and two of them appeared in a different court in Christchurch today.
Tayla-Dane Korau, 25, pleaded not guilty to five charges of dishonestly using bank cards and Judge Gary MacAskill remanded her to a case review hearing on May 23, and an electronically monitored bail application hearing on March 31.
Leana Korau, 27, of Wainoni was remanded to a case review hearing on May 9 on seven representative charges of dishonestly using bank cards, and a shoplifting charge. She has denied all the charges and elected trial by jury. She is in custody but will make application for release on electronically monitored bail at a hearing on April 18.