An older Wellington man has asked for leniency for the Sydney woman who scammed him out of $35,000 by offering her “sister” in a marriage contract when she was already married.
He got his wish today, but the scammer, 60-year-old Li Jun Xue will have to pay him another $10,000 in reparations for his expenses and for emotional harm.
She has already paid back the original $35,000 after being found guilty of obtaining it by deception in a judge-alone Christchurch District Court trial before Judge Tom Gilbert last year.
Judge Gilbert also fined her $7500 at a sentencing conducted today by video-link with her in Sydney because she has been unable to return to Christchurch for the sentencing twice because of Immigration New Zealand refusals to let her into the country.
Judge Gilbert said she had made genuine attempts to return, but ironically the conviction has stopped her travelling.
Defence counsel Alister James already holds money from Xue to pay the additional reparations and the fine imposed today.
Mr James said Xue had returned to New Zealand in August 2015 knowing that the police were going to arrest her for the obtaining by deception charge.
After her conviction she was allowed to return to Sydney on bail. She lives there and cares for her 86-year-old mother.
Mr James said he accepted the victim had suffered further losses through loss of interest and in fees for pursuing the amount he had originally paid in the civil jurisdiction.
He said the victim had sought some leniency for Xue, and thought a financial penalty was appropriate.
Judge Gilbert said if Xue had been in New Zealand he would have imposed an electronically monitored sentence, but that was not possible in Australia.
He told her: “You scammed the victim into parting with his money which he had saved carefully over a number of years for the benefit of his son.”
She had been a key figure in the scam, which unfolded after she placed an advertisement in the Dominion-Post newspaper in June 2013 offering a 45-year-old Singaporean woman for companionship and possible marriage.
The Wellington man was looking for a long term relationship and contacted Xue through the advertisement. She said the advertisement was for her sister “Jessica” and arranged for them to meet.
She asked for a $50,000 payment as a demonstration of his financial capacity.
He initially refused but then paid $35,000 into a joint account. Xue wanted it paid into a bank account “of her choosing” because of her financial support of “Jessica”.
When the man went to arrange a marriage licence, he found that Jessica had been married and still had an Australian husband. Xue told him that a divorce could be arranged for an additional $10,000.
The man was even more uneasy after finding her immigration status was also not as had been claimed, and went to the police. Xue was listed as a witness at Jessica’s wedding in Woollongong, in September 2012.
The present whereabouts of “Jessica” are unknown.
Judge Gilbert told Xue: “She is presumably somewhere else in the world. You clearly misled him about her availability to get married, and you misled him about her immigration status.”
The man’s main concern had been to be recompensed for his losses. “Other than that, he holds no malice towards you and asks for some leniency for you,” said the judge as he imposed the financial penalties.