A woman who raided the bank accounts of women aged 80, 93, and 94 claims she was “horrified” when she learned the nature of the scam she was involved in.
The Christchurch District Court was told today that the whole scam – allegedly with five offenders and many victims – involved frauds totalling $270,000.
The elderly women were cheated out of their bank cards by being convinced by a bogus phone call and visit by a claimed bank official who replaced their “faulty” card. The victims were left with Prezzie cards while the offenders raided their accounts with their real card and PIN number.
Other people obtained the cards, three of which were then passed on to Denise Cherelle Greig, 30, and her partner, Henry Edward Halliday, 26. They repeatedly used the bank cards, with Greig admitting transactions totalling about $8000.
Halliday pleaded guilty and was jailed for 20 months in May and ordered to pay $9000 for his offending, and since then Greig has admitted three fraud charges and was today sentenced by Judge David Ruth to 15 months’ jail.
When she was caught, she told police she had used the money to buy drugs.
Judge Ruth said that because of Greig’s record there was no realistic prospect of her getting employment or access to money that would allow her to repay the funds, so he made no reparation order. Making an order would only raise the victims’ expectations.
Defence counsel Ruth Buddicom said that when the scam allegedly involving $270,000 was discovered there was wide publicity and Greig was “the unfortunate person whose photograph was put into the media”.
“She wore the outcry for the broader scam,” said Miss Buddicom. “She had no knowledge of where the three credit cards she used had come from and she was horrified to learn of that.”
Since then she had met a victim at a restorative justice conference which would have left a lasting impression on her, Miss Buddicom said. She had displayed genuine remorse for her role in the “despicable” scam.
Judge Ruth said: “It is pleasing to see there were some positives that came out of the restorative justice process. That is exactly what it’s for.”
He noted that Greig had handed in letters of apology for all three of her victims, and they would be passed to the police to hand on to the victims if they thought that was suitable. “I hope they get some comfort for the words you have written.”
He noted that Greig had never applied for bail since her arrest in February. “You stayed in custody, and you say it has shown you how worthless that kind of existence can be, away from family and normal life.” She had taken part in programmes in prison.
He jailed her for 15 months with an additional six months of post-release conditions, where she will have to undergo alcohol and drug intervention as directed by her probation officer.
Three other alleged offenders have pleaded not guilty and have a case review hearing this month.