‘Mule’ sentenced for bank fraud backed by syndicate
A ‘‘mule’’ for a fraud ring managed to get $30,000 using forged identification at North Island banks, but had to give most of the money to the heads of the Wellington criminal ring.
Abby Louise MacDonald, 43, a sickness beneficiary, was arrested as part of a police operation into forged firearms licences, 18+ cards and passports.
She would use fake ID to get money from victims’ bank accounts.
Wellington District Court judge Peter Hobbs said yesterday that she was at the bottom of the pyramid structure of what the police had called a criminal syndicate.
She used cheques from a chequebook stolen from a Wellington office block last year, as well as forged firearms licences, but was sometimes unable to answer the security questions at banks and had to leave without any money.
She was driven to banks in Waikanae, Levin, Cambridge and Rotorua by other members of the group.
The judge said she was under some pressure from the group, who made threats and held a debt over her head.
MacDonald pleaded guilty to using documents to get a financial advantage, using forged documents and attempting to use forged documents.
The judge ordered her to do 120 hours community work, a year’s supervision and to repay $3320 in reparation, which was all she had been allowed to keep out of the $30,000 taken.
Lawyer Geneva Lowe said MacDonald had been at a low point in her life and the majority of the money went to the ringleaders, with only a small percentage going to the mules. Three other men have not yet pleaded to charges arising from the police operation.