Man charged with defrauding pensioner of her home

DETECTIVES from the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad have charged a man with with defrauding an elderly Nambucca Heads pensioner of her home.

The North Sydney man, 43, was arrested this morning and has since been charged by the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad.

Police allege in July, 2003, a public affairs program broadcast a report concerning an elderly woman from Nambucca who was enduring some significant financial hardship.

After the report went to air, a man, who claimed to be backed by community-minded investors, allegedly contacted the public affairs program and told them he wanted to pay the elderly woman's debts out of an 'act of generosity'.

The elderly woman was provided with the man's details and her daughter contacted the man to discuss his offer.

After discussing the matter with the elderly woman's family, the man and one of his associates allegedly made arrangements to clear her debts.

Three years later in 2006, the elderly woman decided to sell her house in Nambucca Heads and move closer to her daughter in the Southern Highlands.

However, upon making arrangements to sell the property, the woman allegedly discovered that the home was no longer registered to her and ownership had been transferred to a company she had never heard of.

The woman and her daughter contacted the men who had arranged to clear the woman's debt in 2003, and were allegedly assured by the men that there had simply been a mix-up and the matter would be resolved soon.

The matter was not resolved and following ongoing communications with the men, the elderly woman was evicted from her Nambucca Heads home in 2009.

The woman and her daughter subsequently informed police about what had happened and an investigation, led by Fraud & Cybercrime Squad detectives under Strike Force McMaster, commenced.

Around 8am today, detectives arrested a 43-year-old man outside his residence in North Sydney.

Warrants are being executed at the man's home and business - both in North Sydney - and later this morning police will take him to North Sydney Police Station where he will be charged with fraud.

Commander of the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, commended Strike Force McMaster detectives for their uncompromising effort.

"The men and women working on Strike Force McMaster have been working around the clock to track down and arrest dozens of individuals believed to be involved in fraudulent schemes," Detective Superintendent Katsogiannis said.

"They have done an excellent job to date, and will no doubt continue to do so in the months ahead."

Supt. Katsogiannis reminded the community of the need to report all fraud-related matters to police.

"As soon as you suspect someone has defrauded you or attempted to deceive you, please get in touch with police straight away," Supt. Katsogiannis said.

"Some people feel too embarrassed or scared to report fraud matters to police, but it's vital that we are made aware of what has happened. That way, we can make the necessary inquiries and minimise the chances of other people being targeted and ripped off.

"People who commit fraud are motivated purely by their own greed and prey on the vulnerabilities of others, particularly those who are enduring hardship.

"If you know of anyone engaged in fraudulent schemes or questionable financial behaviour, please do the right thing and contact Crime Stoppers.

"Your call could save innocent people from losing their life's savings."

Strike Force McMaster is a Fraud and Cybercrime Squad investigation into alleged mortgage and equipment finance fraud, whereby a number of dummy companies were set up by a number of different people and fake invoices were used to obtain finance.

To date, its investigators have charged 22 people with more than 380 offences for frauds with a combined value in excess of $36 million.

Topics:  fraud sydney

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