Fraudster loses fight for less jail time

SHE robbed him of his life savings and then argued a five-year jail sentence was excessive.

Fraudster Jan Maree Smith had previously defrauded someone of $30,000 before she met John Houston.

He had operated his floor-laying business as a sole trader before 2004 when they agreed Smith would take care of his business affairs.

She was then aged 46, and Mr Houston had known her for five years.

Unfortunately for Mr Houston, Smith would prove to be a fraudster who would deprive him of his life's savings - $150,000.

Smith argued in the Queensland Court of Appeal that her jail sentence, suspended after serving two years, was manifestly excessive.

She tried to produce new evidence, claiming she had paid back $100,000 in total and she was, at relevant times, in a hospital that had a blocking system that would have prevented fraudulent internet transfers.

"This was a hopeless proposition as there was no evidence to support the assertion about the blocking system," Justice John Bond said in a judgment handed down on Friday dismissing her application.

"And even if the system had been proved, the material did not demonstrate she was in hospital and subject to the blocking system at the times the transfers were made."

The fraud occurred between January 2007 and August 2011 when Smith transferred money to her personal bank accounts more than 500 times.

Not all of the transfers were for fraudulent purposes but she used $150,000 to pay for her own living expenses.

She has repaid $50,000, leaving $100,000 outstanding.

Smith entered false payment references like ATO, tax or ASIC to try to cover her tracks.

Mr Houston became suspicious as early as 2008, when a creditor told him his account had not been paid. He was also told he was in arrears in child support and rent.

Smith created false documents purporting to show money in his daughter's trust and Mr Houston was satisfied his money was safe.

He later discovered Smith had not lodged tax returns since 2004 and the company had been deregistered.

"He was found to owe a significant sum in unpaid taxes and had to enter into an agreement to pay with the ATO. That destroyed his previously perfect credit rating," the judgment read.

"He had thought that by hard work and by scrimping and saving and sacrificing over the years, he had provided a nest egg for his daughter, but that proved false. He was left with debts to the Child Support Agency."

- NewsRegional

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