Fraud sentence appeal
A TASMANIAN credit card fraudster who used his stolen money to fund an “excessive and elitist lifestyle” should have been sentenced to more than 14 months in prison, a Hobart court has heard.
In August, Stuart Malcolm Allen was jailed by Justice Shan Tennent for 14 months, with eligibility for parole after serving half the sentence.
Allen was found guilty by a jury of 45 counts of inserting false information as data, five counts of computer-related fraud and one count of fraud.
From March to October 2013, Allen inserted credit card details without people’s authorisation via Paypal and the National Australia Bank’s merchant banking system, making bogus purchases to an online photography business he had set up.
When the transactions were ultimately the subject of chargebacks, Allen would then transfer the refunds into his own bank account.
The court heard many of the credit card numbers were sourced by Allen while he was working at the Quest Williamstown North apartments in Melbourne.
He received $27,900 from Paypal and $74,000 from NAB in fraudulent refunds. He had attempted to process a further $165,000 of unsuccessful transactions through NAB.
In the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday before Chief Jus- tice Alan Blow and Justices Michael Brett and Robert Pearce, the state appealed Allen’s sentence on the grounds it was manifestly inadequate.
Appearing on behalf of the state, lawyer Kim Ancell said Allen had used the money to fund an “excessive and elitist lifestyle” and his motivation was “purely greed”.
She told the court he used the money to buy a BMW and went on trips to Queensland, including a stay at the luxury hotel Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast. At the time of the Paypal offending, Allen was subject to a good behaviour order from Justice Helen Wood after being found guilty of fraud.
He was required to appear in court, but the matter was listed 31 times after Allen claimed he was too ill to attend but he was committing the crimes that were the subject of the appeal, Mrs Ancell said.
Allen’s lawyer Garth Stevens said 14 months in prison was not insubstantial “es- pecially for a relatively young man experiencing it for the first time”. He said the sentencing judge had given proper weight to all factors and it was not a sophisticated enterprise, which meant the Crown case had been easy to prove.
Mr Stevens said Allen had been kept at the Hobart Reception Prison rather than Risdon Prison for his safety because he was a “vulnerable inmate” due to being openly homosexual. The Court of Criminal Appeal has reserved its decision.