Woman admits ‘family misfortunes’ were a rip-off

A woman who has admitted conning $3000 out of a Kiwibank customer with a sad story about her family’s terrible misfortunes is fighting to keep her name and photograph out of the media.

She admitted telling the stranger about the deaths of her father, mother, and grandmother, and how her son had been burnt and was being transferred to Starship Hospital in Auckland.

The 30-year-old Linwood woman pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to two charges of obtaining money by deception, and Judge Gary MacAskill remanded her on bail for sentencing on March 7.

When Judge MacAskill refused her application for name suppression, she had the case recalled in court later to announce that papers had been applied for a suppression appeal to the High Court. Suppression will apply until the appeal is heard.

The judge asked for a pre-sentence report. He said it would cover options for home detention or community detention but that was not an indication of the sentencing outcome.

He asked whether reparations totalling $3495 were available for the two victims, and defence counsel Kiran Paima said the woman had told him funds could be made available before the sentencing.

“I have explained to her that it will impact on the sentencing outcome,” said Mr Paima.

“Actualities carry much more weight than promises,” the judge commented.

Police said today that on December 18, 2015, at 5.15pm the woman was in Kiwibank’s New Brighton branch, when she approached the woman victim who was at the counter addressing mail.

She said she needed money urgently but the bank would not give her a loan because she had no identification. She said her identification had been burnt in a house fire.

She said her heat pump had exploded that morning and she had been awoken by a explosion at her front door. She gave the victim a fictitious address.

She said she had a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old son. One son was badly burned in the fire and was in Christchurch Hospital awaiting transfer to Starship Hospital.

She said her father had died in the Canterbury earthquake, her mother had passed away in November 2015, and her grandmother had just died.

She told the woman she had found another house but had no money and had spent her last $500 on the bond, and the landlord required another $2300.

Police said: “The victim took pity on her and said she would give her the money. She went to the counter and withdrew $3000 cash to cover the bond and food and gave it to the defendant.”

The defendant said she would pay the victim back on Christmas Eve when her inheritance would come through. They exchanged contact details.

That night, she phoned the victim and told her she was at Christchurch Hospital with her son who needed to be flown to Australia for treatment and she didn’t have any money. However, she did not ask for more money and the victim didn’t offer any.

On December 20, the victim received a text from the defendant saying she would give her all the money back in a few days. More than a year on, the victim has received no money.

When spoken to by the police, she confirmed she had been at the bank and the woman had given her $3000. But she denied the woman’s account and said the victim had told lies. She said she intended to pay the money back.

On March 11, 2016, she went to a woman’s house in Woolston, where she talked about a trip to Rarotonga. She said she had found cheap flights, and the woman gave her a cheque for $495 to pay for part of the flights.

The defendant cashed the cheque but bought no tickets. Instead, she paid the money to associates. The victim has not heard from her since. When interviewed by the police, the defendant said what she had done was wrong and she was embarrassed.

On the woman’s instructions, Mr Paima applied for her name to be suppressed, but Judge MacAskill refused saying there were no grounds to justify the order. However, she later got another lawyer, Phillip Watts, to get the case recalled in court where Judge MacAskill was told that appeal papers had already been filed in the High Court to challenge the refusal.


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